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NK leader mentions his mother for 1st time on TV program

NK leader mentions his mother for 1st time on TV program

Posted January. 10, 2012 06:48,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has mentioned his mother for the first time on North Korean media, fueling speculation over whether the mention of her, which had been taboo, signals the beginning of Pyongyang`s efforts to glorify her.

Airing a documentary on Kim called "Inheriting the Great Achievements of the Military-first Revolution of (Mount) Baekdu," the North`s Korean Central TV contained the leader`s statements in which he mentioned his mother, Koh Young Hee. The mention appeared in a section of the program in which Kim Jong Un emphasizes loyalty to his father.

The program`s narrator quoted Kim Jong Un as saying, “Once on Feb. 16 (Kim Jong Il’s birthday), (Kim Jong Un) spent all night with his mother waiting for the General (Kim Jong Il), who had yet to return from an onsite inspection tour.” Since Kim Jong Un debuted as successor at a Workers` Party convention in September 2009, North Korean media has not mentioned his mother for nearly three years.

Koh, an ethnic Korean dancer originally from Japan, went to North Korea in the early 1960s and performed with Mansudae Arts Troupe. She began living with Kim Jong Il in the mid-1970s and gave him two sons, Jong Chol and Jong Un, and daughter Yo Jong. She remained the North Korean leader`s companion until her death from cancer in 2004. Since Koh hailed from Japan and never officially marry Kim Jong Il, North Korean authorities ordered the public not to mention her, according to intelligence.

With Kim Jong Un`s mention of his mother, analysts say Pyongyang could start efforts to glorify Koh. After being officially named successor to his father Kim Il Sung in 1974, Kim Jong Il also started glorifying his mother Kim Jong Suk as part of the “half-brother struggle.” Afterwards, Kim Jong Il created slogans lauding her including “heroine of the anti-Japan movement” and “mother of the revolution,” established a region and university named after her, and launched a massive campaign to glorify her. When promoted to supreme commander of the North Korean People`s Army in 1991, Kim Jong Il even scheduled his inauguration for Dec. 24, his mother`s birthday, to heighten the meaning of his ascension to power.

Kim Yong-hyeon, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said, “Though not as much as was done for Kim Jong Suk, Kim Jong Un will start a process to repackage Koh Young Hee to promote justification for his rise to North Korea`s leader,” adding, “While hiding weakness such as her background and career, he will likely glorify Koh as an individual by highlighting her devotion and love of family."