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Kim Jong Un Receives Birthday Oaths of Loyalty to Strengthen Leadership

Photo : Reuters

Seoul: North Korea has initiated an unusual practice, reportedly requiring citizens to take loyalty oaths to leader Kim Jong Un on what is believed to have been his 40th birthday, according to a South Korean research institute. The South and North Development Institute (SAND), based in Seoul, released photos of the oath ceremony held in an ornate folder.

While North Korea has never officially confirmed Kim's birth date, the move to conduct loyalty oaths on what is believed to be his birthday signals a departure from the traditional practice of holding such ceremonies on the anniversaries of his father and grandfather, the country's previous rulers.

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SAND's analysis suggests that Kim Jong Un's decision to host a loyalty oath ceremony on his potential 40th birthday, marking his 13th year in power, represents a shift towards political assertiveness, differing from the approach of his predecessors.

Choi Kyong-hui, president of SAND, indicated that North Korea could move to officially designate Kim's birthday as an anniversary in the near future.

This development aligns with North Korea's broader efforts to reinforce Kim Jong Un's leadership through propaganda campaigns. The Kim family dynasty has long upheld its rule by cultivating a cult of personality around its leaders.

In a significant change this year, North Korea ceased referring to the April 15 birth anniversary of the country's founding leader, Kim Il Sung, as the "Day of the Sun," according to reports from a Western tour agency and analysts monitoring state media.

Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the Washington-based 38 North program, interprets this shift as part of North Korea's ongoing efforts to bolster Kim Jong Un's leadership. She notes that while such endeavors are not unprecedented, they occur in phases over the years, with North Korea intensifying efforts to highlight Kim's leadership in certain periods.

Kim Jong Un has also been showcasing his daughter during official visits, possibly to reinforce the family's hold on power. Additionally, North Korea recently released a new song featuring citizens from various backgrounds enthusiastically praising Kim Jong Un as a great leader and friendly father.

May 6, 2024 2:31 p.m. 9579

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