Seoul (AsiaNews) - After making the Kim Il-sung 'eternal president', North Korea's rulers have elevated his son Kim Jong-il, who died in December, to the rank of Grand Marshal of the Democratic People's Republic of Chosun (Korea). The last Stalinist regime in the world has thus raised its reigning cult of the personality (and correlated propaganda) to new outlandish heights. The nomination came on the eve of the celebrations to mark Kim Jong-il's 70th birthday, tomorrow.
With the announcement also came the unveiling of a new statue at Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang of Kim Jong-ol on a horse. The new monumental landmark joins an existing statue of Kim Il Sung, also mounted on a horse.
The late dictator's birthday, one of the country's main civic holidays, is known as the 'Day of the Shining Star'. According to North Korea's ruling ideology, Kim Jong-il was born on a mythical mountain on a very dark night. After he was born, a great shining star shot across the heavens.
However, his appointment as grand marshal also has a political function. Kim Jong-il's elevation to a higher rank means that his old post as a five-star general will be available to his third son and heir Kim Jong-un. Without it, the latter cannot fully take over North Korea's armed forces.