North Korean authorities are planning lavish observances of the death anniversary this week of Kim Jong Sook, grandmother of national leader Kim Jong Un, in a bid to highlight the current leader’s bloodline ties to North Korea’s founders, sources say.
A lavish commemoration of the Sept. 22 anniversary has already been set for North Hamgyong province’s Hoeryong city, Kim Jong Sook’s birthplace, a source in the province told RFA’s Korean Service.
“Flowers from Kim Jong Un will be laid on Kim Jong Sook’s statue in Hoeryong on Sept. 22,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are in the middle of a busy harvest season, and many people have been mobilized for the harvest, but a special team of college and middle-school students from across the province has been formed to visit Hoeryong to take part in the observance,” the source said.
Because Hoeryong was Kim Jong Sook’s hometown, food distributions to city residents will equal those distributed in the capital, Pyongyang, he said, adding, “Hoeryong residents are also looking forward to receiving special gifts on Dec. 24, the hundred-year anniversary of Kim Jong Sook’s birth.”
“Commemorations of Kim Jong Sook’s death were quietly held when her son, Kim Jong Il, was national leader. But this has become a more important event now that Kim Jong Un is in charge,” a second source in North Hamgyong said.
“Learning materials have been distributed, and six volumes of written lectures about Kim Jong Sook’s achievements have already been presented,” he said.
'Mother of the Revolution'
North Korea began to play up the role of Kim Jong Sook, wife of North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung, following the 7th Congress of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party last year, the source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
A complete collection of books attributed to Kim Jong Sook has also been published, he said.
“She was held up as ‘the Mother of the Revolution’ at an event called ‘Praise to Great Persons of Mt. Paektu’ [the mythical birthplace of the Kim dynasty] which was held in Samjiyon in Yanggang province for a week starting on Aug. 15.”
Though this year’s commemoration is not a 10-year anniversary event, lectures and public praise are being offered on a scale greater than in other, more recent years, the source said.
“Residents of Hoeryong have no idea why Kim Jong Sook is being celebrated in this way, but some are speculating that this is a way to further idolize Kim Jong Un,” he said.
“Playing her up is just another way to point out that her grandson, Kim Jong Un, is heir to the Paektu bloodline.”
Reported by Sunghui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Richard Finney.