The slogan “powerful nation” (gangsongguka-ho, with the “ho” being an airplane suffix) has been removed from sugar cookies given to children for Kim Jong Il’s birthday on Feb. 16, Daily NK has learned.

The packaging of sugar cookies for Kim Il Sung’s birthday Daily NK obtained in 2017 and this year’s cookies handed out to celebrate Kim Jong Il’s birthday are generally the same design-wise. Both have the slogan “We are happy” and a phrase meaning “knowledge, morals and body.” The packages also feature a picture of children with happy expressions riding in an airplane. The only difference between the two cookie packages is the absence of “powerful nation.”

The packages of cookies handed out to children for Kim Jong Un’s birthday in 2019 also had the phrase “powerful nation.”

That only the phrase “powerful nation” was deleted from the packaging suggests that its removal was deliberate.

North Korea’s economic situation is in such dire straits that Kim Jong Un officially acknowledged the country’s economic failure at the Eighth Party Congress last month. Daily NK understands that there is a significant amount of anxiety among North Koreans about the country’s severe economic troubles.

North Korean authorities may have removed the phrase because it is no longer possible to use it in North Korea’s current economic situation.

There has also been a significant decrease in the frequency of the phrase “powerful country” in the Rodong Sinmun lately.

While “powerful country” was mentioned 18 times from January to February 2020, and 11 times during the same period in 2019, the paper has only mentioned the phrase four times so far this year.

Daily NK was unable to confirm whether sugar cookies handed out in 2020 had the phrase “powerful nation.”

This year, North Korea largely handed out the same brands of sugar cookies to kids as in past years.

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to