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North Koreans Must Now Swear Oaths Of Loyalty To Kim On His Birthday

North Koreans have been asked oaths of loyalty to Kim Jong Un on his birthday. This is the first time that they have been asked to do so since he took power in 2011.

The Kim family has done a lot to bolster his image as a man of the people in recent times. Recently, a North Korean pop song called ‘Friendly Father’ went viral on social media, especially TikTok. Analysts say the song, which shows Kim as a benevolent father figure to the people, is a sharp change from his previous image which always depicted him as the Supreme Leader. This comes as North Korea’s relations with South Korea have fallen drastically.

The loyalty oaths were said to have been administered on what is believed to have been Kim’s 40th birthday on January 8, according to the South and North Development Institute (SAND), a Seoul-based organisation that released photos of the oath in an ornate folder on Friday. North Korean officials have never before confirmed Kim’s birth date and such oath ceremonies have only taken place on the anniversaries of the birthdays of his father and grandfather, the nuclear-armed country’s previous rulers.

“Kim Jong Un’s choice to host a loyalty oath ceremony on his 40th birthday, as he begins his 13th year in power, signals a shift towards political assertiveness, departing from his predecessors’ approach,” SAND said in an analysis. Other analysts believe that this is a calculated move to ensure the North Korean leader’s “propaganda campaign.”

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“We should view this as part of North Korea’s effort to further bolster Kim Jong Un’s leadership propaganda campaign,” Rachel Minyoung Lee of the Washington-based 38 North programme. She noted that while such efforts are not new, they happen in phases over the years, with North Korea visibly accelerating efforts to play up Kim’s leadership in certain years.

Kim has also increasingly been showing off his daughter at official visits to everything from factories to missile launches, in what analysts said is aimed at bolstering the family’s claim to power.

(With inputs from Reuters & other agencies)