One of North Korea’s two biggest national holidays, today’s Day of the Sun celebrations are set to be used as another important plank in the establishment of the succession of Kim Jong Eun.
Given that Kim Jong Eun’s propaganda image is one of a youthful Kim Il Sung, this Day of the Sun is expected to be used as an opportunity to justify the hereditary succession. Nostalgia is one key tool in this battle, as shown at the Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference on September 28th last year, when Kim Jong Eun looked and acted very much like his grandfather as he made his first public appearance.
Indeed, among the many rumors about Kim Jong Eun which are swirling in North Korea is one which suggests that he even got plastic surgery to better resemble Kim Il Sung, though of course this has not been confirmed.
The advantage of nostalgia for Kim Il Sung is obviously that it recalls an age when life was much better for common North Koreans, and may even create a sense of psychological expectation for the future, thus suppressing complaints about the succession.
North Korea can also utilize this Day of the Sun as an opportunity to emphasize Kim Jong Eun’s leadership itself, by having him lauded for directly overseeing celebratory events, just as he supposedly did in the case of fireworks displays over the Taedong River on Kim Il Sung’s birthday in 2009 and again in 2010.
Another area where Kim Jong Eun could be officially lionized at this time is housing construction. According to a source in Pyongyang, the North Korean authorities claim domestically that the project to construct 100,000 homes in the capital is being led by Kim Jong Eun.
The source speculated, “In order to show that, on the Day of the Sun of all days, the successor is a great ‘man of the people’ who cares for his citizens, Kim Jong Il could take Kim Jong Eun along on his on-site instruction, just as he did in the case of the Supreme People’s Assembly.”
At that time, the two Kims did not attend the parliamentary meeting in Pyongyang, instead visiting a number of sites in Jagang Province.
No doubt the revolutionary tradition and bloodline of Mt. Baekdu will also be heavily emphasized this Day of the Sun, so as to stress the justness of the succession system.
During the process of Kim Jong Il seizing power, he created the idea of ‘successor theory’, which states that an incoming leader needs to forge revolutionary achievements to justify his succession. Naturally, this was created to justify Kim Jong Il’s succession to power, and is now being used again.
“By stressing the fact that Kim Jong Eun is the grandson of Kim Il Sung, North Korea is emphasizing the succession of the revolutionary tradition and bloodline of Mt. Baekdu. In particular, through this emphasis they are trying to brainwash people into believing the justification for the third generation hereditary succession,” one South Korean source explained.
Looking at today’s outlook overall, Cheong Seong Chang, a researcher with the Sejong Institute, anticipated yesterday, “This Day of the Sun, North Korea will heighten the idolization of Kim Jong Eun by showing him in the same light as Kim Il Sung. Especially, they will stimulate nostalgia for Kim Il Sung in an attempt to reduce criticism of Kim Jong Il and the hereditary succession system.”
Cheong even said he believes this April 15th could be used for distributing new sources of idolization, claiming, “This Day of the Sun will be used as an opportunity for North Korea to distribute portraits of Kim Jong Eun to its citizens and hang it on the wall.”
“They will raise a feeling of expectation through various cultural and sporting events and emphasize the stabilization of the succession system and leadership of the new leader,” Cho Myung Cheol, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, predicted.
However, as one defector from Yangkang Province commented, “No matter how much plastic surgery Kim Jong Eun gets, he will never have the kind and virtuous image of Kim Il Sung. Since Kim Jong Il has destroyed the people’s good opinion of Kim Il Sung, complaints about the third generation hereditary succession will continue unless the people’s lives practically improve, regardless of whether Kim Jong Eun is a good politician.”
Cheong agreed, pointing out, “North Korea cannot expect the people to become loyal to the successor by simply making them feeling nostalgia for Kim Il Sung.”