New Era In North Korea? Kim Jong Un Got Citizens To Pledge Loyalty Oath To Him For 40th Birthday

North Korea has administered loyalty oaths to its citizens on the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un, marking a shift in the country’s political landscape. This development, along with other recent actions, is seen as an effort to consolidate Kim’s authority.

What Happened: The South and North Development Institute, a Seoul-based organization, disclosed that North Koreans were required to pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong Un on his 40th birthday, Jan. 8. This is the first time such oaths have been administered since Kim took power in 2011, reported Reuters.

The SAND, which released photos of the ceremony, suggested that this move signifies a shift towards a more assertive political approach under Kim’s leadership. The institute’s president, Choi Kyong-hui, hinted that North Korea might soon declare Kim’s birthday as an official anniversary.

North Korea has never officially confirmed Kim’s birth date. Traditionally, oath ceremonies like this have occurred on the birthdays of his father and grandfather, who were the 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.

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North Korea has traditionally held such ceremonies on the birthdays of Kim’s father and grandfather, the country’s previous rulers. This change, along with other recent actions, is seen as an attempt to further solidify the Kim family’s grip on power.

“We should view this as part of North Korea's effort to further bolster Kim Jong Un’s leadership propaganda campaign,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee of the Washington-based 38 North programme.

Why It Matters: This development comes amid a series of significant events in North Korea. In April, Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, pledged to build an “overwhelming” military power to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and regional peace.

This announcement followed a series of missile tests by North Korea, which had raised concerns among neighboring countries and the international community.

Additionally, a delegation from North Korea, led by the cabinet minister for international trade, visited Iran amid long-standing suspicions of covert military ties between the two nations.

This visit took place against the backdrop of efforts by the U.S. and its allies to create a new body to oversee sanctions enforcement on North Korea, following hindrances at the U.N. due to Russia’s refusal to renew the mandate for the existing panel of experts and China’s abstention from the vote.

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