Confusion Reigns in Northern Nomenclature

The term Highest Dignity has entered common
use among the North Korean populace as a way to refer to Kim Jong Eun, Daily NK
has learned. A source in Sinuiju reported on the 15
th that the term is used more regularly today than the
more formal,
The Marshal.

The regime has long utilized the former term. Most notably,
it has been in use for many years in
propaganda targeting South Korea, where it
 is employed in broadcast
and print media when Pyongyang wishes to criticise a slight against the North
Korean leader. Thus, accusations that “the
puppet party of south Chosun has slandered our Highest Dignity” are not

On the 14th, for instance, the Committee of Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a propaganda
organization targeting South Korean society, accused “conservative South
Korean media,” including Daily NK, of
flagrant slander of
our Highest Dignity and system.

Among the people, however, the term has taken on a more
nuanced meaning. The Sinuiju source said that it is common for people to inquire: Where has the Highest Dignity gone today? or, I heard the Highest Dignity organized an event at
[location X].

According to the source, the term “Highest Dignity” as a way to refer to Kim Jong Eun was
given a push into broader public usage in the period following the arrest and
execution of Jang Song Taek last December. 

At the time, the Ministry of Public Security issued Four
Guidelines to local units. These warned of harsh punishments for
the following: damaging the reputation of the
Highest Dignity; ▲“superstitious activities,
including Christianity;  drug crimes; and  production,
sale, circulation and use of foreign dramas and films.

In the weeks after the guidelines
were issued the term spread quickly among cadres and the public,” the
source recalled. “People started joking around as they watched TV, saying, Who
is that person seated next to the Highest Dignity?
Agents cannot tell people to stop even when they are using the term in
jest, because it was coined by the Party.”

As the above comment indicates, the term “Highest Dignity” does not contain a sense of implied respect; in other words, “Highest Dignity” does not act as a like-for-like replacement for “The Marshal,” which is meant to be in use in much the same way as “The General” is used to indicate Kim Jong Il in public discourse.

The root of this confusion appears to lie in the regime’s failure to adopt a coherent strategy for idolizing Kim Jong Eun, even though he has now been in power for more than two years. This failure is being reflected at all levels of society and in official discourse. 

A second source from North Hamkyung Province reaffirmed the point, telling Daily NK, Kim Il Sung was known as
and Kim Jong Il was called The
, but no title has stuck [when referring to Kim Jong

Kim was known as both
“Rising Star General,” and “Youth Commander prior to his official debut as successor in September 2010, and the North
Korean media still uses several titles interchangeably. These include Marshal” and General.” 

Confusion over what is or is not an appropriate term to
use was similarly apparent during separated family reunions held in February this
year. At the time, North Korean attendees used a surprising variety of different terms to
refer to Kim Jong Eun, even the simple “comrade.” Importantly, most usages were not criticized by attending security
officials, intimating that they also do not know what the “correct” term

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