Kim Jong Un tribute absence sparks speculation

Published : 16 Apr 2020 09:06 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 07:53 PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's conspicuous absence from commemorations for his grandfather Kim Il Sung's birth anniversary this week suggests he could be looking to emphasise his own authority over his family's legacy, analysts said, reports AFP.

The April 15 birthday of the North's founder is the most important celebration of the nuclear-armed coun­try's annual political ca­lendar, kno­wn as the Day of the Sun. North Ko­reans are taught from birth to revere Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader, and all adults wear badges depicting one or both men.

But Kim's absence from any official reports on this year's commemorations led analysts to speculate he wants to distance himself from the "cult of personality" surrounding the country's ruling dynasty.

The state KCNA news agency did not mention him in a Thursday report on senior officials visiting the Kumsusan Palace to pay the "highest tribute" to the two late leaders.

Since inheriting power in 2011, Kim has always gone to the sprawling mausoleum on the outskirts of the capital on their birth anniversaries. Pictures Thursday in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the official mou­thpiece of the ruling party, did not show him atte­nding, although a floral basket was draped with a ban­ner bea­ring his name.

"Kim Jong Un wants to break away from the past, as well as the North's traditional cult of personality," said Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean defector and researcher in Seoul.

"His message is that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung's times are now over," he told AFP. "He wants to come across and brand himself as a leader who is modern and competent, rather than a descendant of his predecessors.