11/18/2004, 00.00
north korea
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North Korean media drop Kim Jong Il's glorifying title

Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Ap) – North Korea's state-run media dropped the title of "Dear Leader" to glorify the communist nation's leader Kim Jong Il in recent stories, a Japanese agency that monitors the regime's media reported on Thursday.

The North's Korean Central News Agency and the Korean Central Broadcast referred to Kim instead as "general secretary of the Worker's Party of Korea," or "chairman of the National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army," said the Tokyo-based Radiopress.

The "Dear Leader" title - an emblem of the personality cult he uses in ruling over his impoverished nation - was absent in stories about his visit to observe military activity on Wednesday, the agency said.

The change followed a report by the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass on Tuesday that some portraits of Kim had been removed from buildings in the country. The report cited an unidentified diplomat.

Analysts say the latest change is believed to be part of a move intended to soften Kim's image as a dictator. Other changes in the North Korean media indicate a similar change: the stories about him have become somewhat shorter.
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