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New N Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrating birthday

January 08, 2012, 8:27 UTC+3

On North Korea’s calendars for 2012 published before the death of Kim Jong Il the birthday of his youngest son is designated as an ordinary day

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TOKYO, January 8 (Itar-Tass) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday is celebrating his first birthday on this post. Observers are wondering whether the country will hold celebrations in order to strengthen the power of the new DPRK head who has become the country’s leader after the death of his father Kim Jong Il at the end of last year.

On North Korea’s calendars for 2012 published before the death of Kim Jong Il the birthday of his youngest son is designated as an ordinary day, not a holiday. After Kim Jong Un inherited the supreme power in the DPRK, the situation could change. The country’s authorities are likely to prefer not to hold mass celebratory events in connection with the fact that less than two weeks have passed since the funeral of the previous leader of the country. Nevertheless, experts believe that Pyongyang in one form or another will begin the tradition of celebrating the birthday of Kim Jong Un as a public holiday.

An additional intrigue is the lack of accurate information about the age of the new leader of the country. According to various sources, he is 26 to 28 years old. Some experts suggest that the DPRK authorities could announce that Kim Jong Un has turned 30, to emphasize his mystical connection with his father and grandfather - the founder of the state, Kim Il Sung. In 2012, Kim Jong Il would have turned 70, and Kim Il Sung - 100.

The youngest son of Kim Jong Il - Kim Jong Un has been appointed supreme commander of the DPRK armed forces. However, North Korean media have already called the son of the late head of state “an outstanding leader of the party, army and people of the DPRK.” According to observers, Kim Jong Un will soon also take the posts of general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPC) and chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission.

On 17 December 2011, Kim Jong Il died. Despite the elder Kim's plans, it was not immediately clear after his death whether Jong Un would in fact take full power, and what his exact role in a new government would be. Some analysts had predicted that when Kim Jong Il died, Jang Sung Taek would act as regent, as Jong Un is too inexperienced to immediately lead the country. On 25 December 2011, North Korean television showed Jang Sung Taek in the uniform of a general in a sign of his growing sway after the death of Kim Jong Il. A Seoul official familiar with North Korea affairs said it was the first time Jang has been shown on state television in a military uniform. His appearance suggests that Jang has secured a key role in the North's powerful military, which has pledged its allegiance to Kim Jong Un.

The cult of personality around Kim Jong-un has been stepped up following his father’s death. He was hailed as the “great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche,” “outstanding leader of the party, army and people,” “respected comrade who is identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il,” and chairman of the Kim Jong Il funeral committee. The Korean Central News Agency described Kim Jong Un as “a great person born of heaven,” a propaganda term only his father and grandfather had enjoyed, while the ruling Workers’ Party said in an editorial: “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong Un our supreme commander, our leader.”

He was publicly declared Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army on 24 December 2011 and formally appointed to the position on 30 December when the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party “courteously proclaimed that the dear respected Kim Jong Un, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK, assumed the supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army.”

On 26 December 2011, the leading North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun announced that Kim Jong Un has been acting as chairman of the Central Military Commission, and supreme leader of the country, following his father's demise.

Officially, Kim Jong Un is part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Choe Yong Rim and parliament chairman Kim Yong Nam (no relation). Each nominally holds powers equivalent to a third of a president’s powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong Un commands the armed forces, Choe Yong Rim heads the government and Kim Yong Nam handles foreign relations. In practice, however, it is generally understood that Kim Jong Un, like his father before him, exercises absolute control over the government and the country. 

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