Kim Jong-un memorial

Pictured above are two plaques commemorating the visit of Kim Jong-il (L) and Kim Jong-un (R) at the Taean Friendship Glass Factory in Nampho on 2010-11-24. Read about the visit in KCNA here. This visit took place shortly after Kim Jong-un’s public unveiling at the Workers’ Party Conference on 2010-9-28 (see here, here, and here).

On July 22, 2011, the Daily NK posted pictures of a similar monument at the Wonsan University of Agriculture that was built to commemorate a visit to the university by Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un on 2009-4-26.  Of course the report of this visit in KCNA did not mention Kim Jong-un’s attendance (he had yet to be publicly unveiled) .

According to the Taean Glass Factory plaque, 존경하는 (Jon-gyong-ha-nun) is KJU’s honorific title. Google translates this as, “With all due respect”, which I don’t believe is the best interpretation. Fortunately the Daily NK, again, has some interesting history of Kim Jong-un’s honorific titles, which is helpfully informative (though lacking any Hangul):

North Korea is currently using the prefix ‘respected Comrade General’ to describe successor Kim Jong Eun. The new, elevated name was used in an internal Chosun People’s Army document received by The Daily NK on November 10th.

One defector who held a senior post in North Korea before escaping earlier this year told Daily NK, “The title of ‘youthful Young General’ was used in internal Party documents from 2008, and from 2010 the word ‘respected’ was first added by the military authorities.”

On October 17, Chosun Central TV used the phrase “respected Comrade General Kim Jong Eun” while reporting on a visit to Yongseong Machinery Complex in Hamheung, seemingly reflecting a commemorative plaque with the same caption positioned above a door there. This report may have triggered the nationwide use of Kim’s new official title.

North Korea currently uses the prefix ‘Great’ for Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, while Kim Jong Il also receives the second prefix of ‘Dear’.

According to defectors and experts on North Korea, the prefix ‘respected’ was given to Kim Jong Il in 1973. Still a year before he was identified as the successor, Kim, who was at the time both the KWP Central Committee point man for guidance and propaganda, was referred to internally as ‘respected superior’.

In 1974, the year Kim Jong Il officially became the successor, the term ‘Dear Leader’ was first used in an essay, supposedly written by Kim Jong Il himself, entitled ‘On the Number of Tasks Facing Party Ideological Operations for the Spreading of Kim-il-sungism in Society.’

At that time, Rodong Shinmun was using the term ‘Party Center’ as a euphemism, but from that point on the term ‘Dear’ was used when invoking praise for the successor alongside the word “respected”.

The titles ‘great General’ and ‘Supreme Leader’ began then to be used officially after Kim Jong Il rose to the position of Supreme Commander of the Chosun People’s Army in 1991. Kim Jong Suk, Kim Jong Il’s mother and still praised alongside Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as one of the ‘Three Mt. Baekdu Generals’, is also referred to as ‘Respected’.

Despite his elevated nomenclature, it nevertheless appears likely that Kim Jong Eun will have to wait until he has risen to the position of Supreme Leader and has complete control over the army before he can be called ‘Dear’. When he made his first public address at the Party Delegates’ Conference in September, his titles were simply ‘Vice-Chairman of the Chosun Workers’ Party Central Military Committee’ and ‘General of the Chosun People’s Army’.

However, it does appear that the younger Kim is already effectively wielding power over the military. In the seized military document there is a reference to “the People’s Army, which is under the direct instruction of the Respected Comrade General.”

The document further says that “It is necessary to establish a strong system of discipline whereby all issues that emerge within the operations of the People’s Army are reported as is to the Respected Comrade General, and operations thereby executed in line with his decisions.”

Andrei Lankov also mentions these plaques in his Asia Times article, “The rise of Kim Il-sung’s mini-me”.


3 Responses to “Kim Jong-un memorial”

  1. 존경하는 would best be translated as “respected” or “honorable”, ex 존경을 받다 = win respect; command esteem, according to my electronic Korean dictionary. 


  2. Steve says:

    I’m betting his title will be “Beloved Leader.”  I thought I read something about that a while ago. Mayhaps I’m wrong.