Jong-un’s birthday is now holiday, says report

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Jong-un’s birthday is now holiday, says report

North Korea has declared a public holiday to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong-Il’s youngest son, a report said yesterday, as the regime grooms him to take over power from his father.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based welfare group with contacts in the North, said the propaganda department in the northeastern city of Hoeryong had since mid-October held lectures for ruling party secretaries at each factory, workplace and public institution.

The lectures, among other topics, mentioned the accomplishments of “Young General” Kim Jong-un “as well as the honor and pride the people will have to serve another great man,” Good Friends said in a regular newsletter.

It said the propaganda department director at one lecture asked a party secretary to list the country’s national holidays.

When the secretary failed to mention Jong-un’s birthday, the director told him that “January 8th, the birthday of the ‘Young General,’ is also one of our biggest holidays,” the newsletter said without disclosing its source.

The youngest son was little known overseas until he came into the limelight in September. He was appointed a four-star general, given senior ruling party posts and appeared in photos and at a mass parade close to his father.

Since then, Jong-un has frequently been listed or pictured accompanying his father on his trademark “field guidance” visits.

The JoongAng Ilbo earlier this month said it obtained North Korean calendars for 2011 that failed to mark the son’s birthday as a public holiday.

Kim Jong-Il’s birthday was designated as an interim holiday in 1975, a year after he was named his own father’s successor at the age of 32, the paper said.

It was officially designated as a public holiday in 1983.

Kim Jong-Il officially took over after his father and founding president Kim Il Sung died in 1994.

The current leader, now 68, suffered a stroke in August 2008 and is apparently speeding up efforts to put his son in place as heir apparent.

But Seoul-based groups with contacts in the North have reported public skepticism about another hereditary succession, especially in light of Jong-Un’s youth and inexperience and the poor state of the economy.

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