North Korean media has begun to use the designation ‘father’ when referring to Kim Jong Eun following the death of Kim Jong Il.
Choson Central News Agency (KCNA) on the 25th reported that Kim Jong Eun made a visit to the Mangyondae Revolutionary School. During his visit, Kim Jong Eun was greeted by staff and students as “Dear Father,” a designation stressing loyalty.
Rodong Shinmun, a day before, ran an article entitled ‘The sun shines forever’. It stated “our people broken hearted at the loss of our nation’s Father (Kim Jong Il ) and out of love our father (Kim Jong Eun) warmly welcomed the return of our people from overseas.” This statement showed that Kim Jong Eun has succeeded being called ‘father’ following Kim Jong Il.
The newspaper went on to praise Kim Jong Eun, “our people are all one in our father and persist with single-minded unity and great heart.”
In the official media, Kim Il Sung was nominally referred to as the ‘Great Fatherly Leader,’ yet he was most commonly referred to as the ‘Fatherly Leader’.
In 1990, Kim Jong Il was able to secure power, yet it was not until the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, that he was able to take on the title in earnest. In 1980, the term started to be used collectively when referring to Kim Il Sung. The use of the ‘father’ term when referring to Kim Jong Eun suggests a rising status of the new leader.
The term ‘father’ has been used for the idolization of both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and serves to support a personality cult for the third-generation Kim Jong Eun. At the age of 29 (As stated by the North Korean authorities he is estimated to have been born in 1983), however, the title of ‘father’ seems unnatural. It is possible that proper wait may be expected.
North Korean media began to use the qualifier ‘father’ to refer to Kim Jong Eun immediately following the death of Kim Jong Il in December.