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N. Korea marks new leader`s birthday in low-key fashion

Posted January. 09, 2012 00:36,   


North Korea marked the birthday of new leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday, his first since the death of his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il last month.

Pyongyang did not announce the birthday or a celebrative event via public media, but the North`s Korean Central TV aired a documentary on Kim Jong Un in a campaign to glorify him called "Inheriting the Great Achievement of the Military First Revolution of (Mount) Baekdu.” The film started with images of the leader riding a white horse and highlighted his inspection visits to military units. The movie is believed to a compilation of footage since January 2009, when he was unofficially designated as the heir apparent.

Through this movie, it was effectively confirmed that Kim Jong Un accompanied his father when the latter visited the rocket control center when North Korea launched the long-range rocket Kwangmyungsung 2 on April 5, 2009. Kim Jong Il was quoted by the film as saying, “It was our General Kim (Kim Jong Un) who counterattacked the enemy`s tactic of threatening to intercept an earth satellite (long range rocket)." The documentary also quoted Kim Jong Un as saying, "If the enemy intercepts, I made the determination to actually start a war.”

North Korea is celebrating April 15, the birthday of the Stalinist country`s founder Kim Il Sung, as "Day of the Sun," and Feb. 16, Kim Jong Il`s birthday, as "the biggest holiday of the people." An informed source on the North said, “Since 2009, singing contests or sports events were convened at the levels of Workers` Party chapters and military units on Kim Jong Un`s birthday as well."

Pyongyang held no major celebratory events this year, however. North Korea was apparently not in the mood to publicly celebrate Kim Jong Un`s birthday since it has been under a month since the death of his predecessor.

will71@donga.com koh@donga.com