In the News – N. Korea’s state media tout new leader’s young age

In the News – N. Korea’s state media tout new leader’s young age

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s propaganda machines are churning out reports highlighting the early achievements of new leader Kim Jong-un, as his young age and apparent lack of experience continue to raise doubts about his leadership.

The new leader, thought to be in his late 20s, inherited power from his father Kim Jong-il, who died of heart failure on Dec. 17. Kim’s sudden demise accelerated the chosen heir’s rise to power, though with far less grooming than his father had received. Initial fears of internal chaos soon subsided as Kim Jong-un appeared to be consolidating his power in the communist regime.

A series of recent reports in the North’s state media, however, indicate that doubts persist over the young Kim’s credentials, both within and outside North Korea’s borders, analysts in Seoul said.

In an article published in the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, on Jan. 28, Kim Jong-un was hailed for his youth and what was claimed to be his exceptional political insight.

“Our supreme leader, our supreme commander is young,” the paper said, adding it is the nation’s “utmost luck and honor” to serve such a young leader.

The paper also claimed Kim Jong-un was involved in the North’s satellite projects and nuclear weapons tests, starting in his teens.

In another apparent effort to justify Kim’s rule, the Rodong Sinmun praised the early achievements of his late father and grandfather, national founder Kim Il-sung.

Kim Jong-il launched his “military-first” policy as a teenager in the early 1960s, while Kim Il-sung took part in Korea’s independence movement against Japanese colonial rule at the age of 15, the paper claimed.

Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, went further to argue that Kim Jong-un’s young age is a source of comfort.

“Foreign media may claim that Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un had too little preparation as successor, but in fact, it is the opposite,” the paper said Monday. “(In North Korea), a leader’s youth is not a source of anxiety but a source of reassurance.”

The young leader was designated as a four-star general in 2010 and declared supreme commander of the country’s 1.1 million-strong military following his father’s death, though he is believed to have little, if any, military experience.

“The North Korean regime appears to be concerned about persisting doubts among the people over a 20-something-year-old Kim, and is trying to quell such concerns,” said a North Korea expert in Seoul, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Original article can be found here.

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