Kim Jong-un’s birthday not national holiday yet

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Kim Jong-un’s birthday not national holiday yet


조선중앙TV가 8일 방영한 기록영화의 첫 부분엔 김정은이 회색말을 타고 달리며 등장한다(위 사진). 이는 항일유격전쟁을 지휘하던 김일성의 ‘백마를 탄 채 만주벌판을 달리는 모습’에서 착안했다는 분석이다. 김정은이 2010년 ‘근위서울 류경수 제 105 탱크사단’을 방문해 탱크에 들어가는 모습(가운데)과 군용기 조종석에 앉아 있는 모습(아래)도 나왔다. [조선중앙TV 캡처]

Despite the fact that Sunday was the presumed birthday of new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, North Korean workers employed by South Korean companies at an industrial complex in the border town of Kaesong reported to work as usual yesterday, industry sources said.

North Korea has celebrated the birthdays of the North’s founder and first president, Kim Il Sung, and his son, Kim Jong-il, which fall on April 15 and February 15, respectively, as the nation’s biggest holidays, allowing its workers to have two days off for each.

Following last month’s sudden death of Kim Jong-il, speculation has been mounting about whether the communist state would celebrate Kim Jong-un’s birthday, as the new leader appears to be consolidating his power. It is reported to be Jan. 8, but that has not been officially confirmed.

North Korea has said Kim Jong-un was born Jan. 8, 1982, which would make him 30 years old. But analysts think that year was chosen to echo the birth year of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, who was born in 1912, and that he was actually born on Jan. 8, 1983. Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun has reported he was born on Jan. 8, 1984.

The North’s state media have stepped up propaganda campaigns to champion the young leader in an apparent bid to ensure the dynastic succession goes smoothly.

According to sources in Kaesong, some North Korean workers showed up yesterday at their workplaces at the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong, just north of the border with South Korea.

“North Korean workers have tended to give advance notice of their holidays. But this time, they didn’t give us any notice,” said an official.

The state media have lauded Kim Jong-un as “the outstanding leader” and “another great sun,” though it did not mention his Jan. 8 birthday. His birthday was also not marked in the North Korean calendar for 2012.

The Kaesong complex, which marries South Korean capital and technology with cheap labor from the North, is a key by-product of a landmark summit between then-President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.

More than 120 South Korean businesses employ about 48,000 North Korean workers.

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