04/15/2011, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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Kim Jong-un staking succession on the ‘Day of the Sun’

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Kim Jong-il’s third son is the heir designate to the throne of Pyongyang, but has not yet received the official investiture, which he desperately needs. After sponsoring real estate developments, he is betting his future on following in the footsteps of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, whose birthday today it is, in order to convince the people that he is different from his father and that he can save them from destruction.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – Against a background of propaganda about the succession and widespread hunger, North Korea celebrated today the ‘Day of the Sun’, one of the country’s two main national days of celebration, marking the birthday of the ‘Eternal President’, Kim Il-sung. From tomorrow’s official newspapers, it will possible to see whether the heir to the throne of Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un, was able to become the probable successor to his father, Kim Jong-il.

As some South Korean analysts suggest the young man, who is the third child and heir apparent, is doing everything to appear as the new Kim Il-sung. “Trying to raise expectations in the population about the future, he dresses like his grandfather, and in his public addresses, speaks like him. In so doing, he is saying that he represents a break with the current presidency in order to convince people that things will be better under him.”

In fact, the early years of Kim Il-sung’s rule, who came to power in 1953 at the end of the Korean War, are remembered as a time of prosperity. At the time, the country received money from China as well as the Soviet Union, which was trying to use the Korean Peninsula to break the Maoist dream of an Asian Socialist International.

With the demise of the Cold War, the implementation of ‘Juche’ (the official ideology of self-sufficiency theorised by the ‘Eternal President’) and the loss of aid from Moscow, the country began a process of economic decline that brought it to the current situation.

Today in North Korea, about 40 per cent of the population lives with less than two dollars a day, seen by the United Nations as the level of absolute poverty. Kim Jong-il’s military provocations have also led to a cut-off of in international aid.

On the ‘Day of the Sun’, the regime wants to mobilise the people and convince them, as the late Kim put it, that “at the end of the long and hard journey, there is the dawn, wheat and victory.”

As tradition dictates, various public shows were held across the capital and the other cities of North Korea. In Pyongyang, notables visited the huge mausoleum dedicated to the ‘Eternal President’, whilst elsewhere local officials gathered the population together to sing the praise of the great leader.

In the capital, Kim Jong-un organised the celebrations, a clear sign of paternal benevolence, adopting a sober but grandiose style. Using fireworks, the ideograms of the grandfather’s name appeared in the sky, this over a huge area covered in ‘kimilsungie’, an orchid created in honour of Kim Il-sung.

This way, a source told AsiaNews, “the young man wants to show that he holds dear the same things that his grandfather did, namely flowers and fireworks.” At the same time, “he wants to convince the people that Kim Il-sung’s blood runs in his veins runs in order to edge out his father from the hearts of people, treating the tragedies of the past few decades as mere blunders. The saddest thing of all is that he might actually pull it off.”

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