North Korea celebrated the 68th birthday of its leader on Tuesday as defectors in the South launched balloons carrying propaganda leaflets towards the North, a South Korean news agency reported.
Kim Jong-Il's birthday, one of North Korea's most important public holidays, was marked with songs and dance performances, synchronized swimming displays and an ice sculpture festival.
Yonhap reported that North Korean television broadcast footage of Kim delivering cookies and other "gifts of love" to children across the country.
In South Korea, some 100 defectors from the North released huge balloons carrying anti- Pyongyang leaflets and small radios near the heavily fortified North-South frontier.
The protesters, shouting "Down with dictator Kim Jong-Il," attached $1 bills to the flyers in a bid to encourage North Koreans to pick them up despite the risk of punishment.
The leaflet drop has caused outrage in both Pyongyang and Seoul, although the South says there are no laws against such actions.
"Our campaign is to tell our northern brothers that Kim Jong-Il is not an idol but a dictator who deprived them of freedom," BBC quoted the head the group of defectors as saying.
Kim Jong-Il has ruled North Korea since 1994, when he succeeded his late father Kim Il-Sung, the communist state's founder.
MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti)