Following the death of Kim Jong Il, efforts to venerate the former leader have been well publicized. New badges jointly depicting the deceased leader and his father, Kim Il Sung, have been issued. New statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are being erected in provincial capitals as well as prominent locations in Pyongyang. Paintings of Kim Jong Il have been placed next to new paintings Kim Il Sung in public areas such as Kim Il Sung Square, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and the Rodong Sinmun headquarters.
New monuments of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have been built next to each other in public squares and factories across the country. Finally, Immortality towers, which used to read “The great Comrade Kim Il Sung will always be with us” are being modified to read, “The great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il will always be with us”.
What has been rarer to uncover, however, is propaganda venerating the new leader, Kim Jong Un, although the lack of media attention should not lead the reader to believe such a campaign is not underway.
DO-IT-YOURSELF WORKS OF KIM JONG UN
Every North Korean is required to obtain a copy of a new book, “Words of the respected comrade Kim Jong-Eun” [경애하는김정은동지말씀 – pictured below]. This is not a book by Kim Jong Un but rather a blank diary for writing down his words of wisdom.
Bought as a book of empty pages, the owner is supposed to fill them in himself/herself over time. The small version of the book sells for 3000KPW in markets, the large version sells for 5000KPW.
In November 2012, I broke the news that a new hillside propaganda slogan venerating the new leader had been built:
This slogan, “Long live the sun of Songun (military-first) Korea, General Kim Jong Un!” appears at the newly constructed Samsu Dam near Hyesan, and is still the only example of Kim Jong Un propaganda that has been observed using satellite imagery.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH A NEW’UN
Kim Jong Un propaganda is ubiquitous, however. How did the North Koreans so quickly unleash this new campaign? In a show of pragmatism, or perhaps foreshadowing, the usual process across the country for creating a new Kim Jong Un slogan is simply to alter an old Kim Jong Il slogan by replacing 일 [Il] with 은 [Un], according to tourist accounts.
In this undated tourist photo, the alteration is visible with the naked eye:
In the close-up below, it is it is easier to see that “Kim Jong Il” [김정일] has been altered to read “Kim Jong Un” [김정은] in a simple one-character paint job. The remainder of the slogan remains unchanged.
This is a single example of a small roadside slogan, but the same process is at work on more prestigious monuments. Below is the slogan that used to appear above the Kim Il Sung Revolutionary Museum in Chongjin:
The slogan reads “Long live the great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il [위대한령도자 (Great Leader) 김정일동지 (Comrade Kim Jong Il) 만세! (Long Live!)].
This is how the slogan appears today on the same museum:
Here the “il” [일] has been replaced with “un” [은], but perhaps most interestingly, Kim Jong Il’s title, “Great Leader” [위대한령도자], remains unchanged. Kim Jong Un has yet to formally adopt this title. He is still referred to as “Dear Respected” [경애하는] on the evening news and in official pronouncements.
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