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North Koreans Still Unsure When to Celebrate Kim Jong Un's Birthday

Sputnik News

20:57 08.01.2015(updated 21:38 08.01.2015)

Veil of secrecy still covers the exact date of Kim Jong Un's birth date, although it is believed he was born on January 8.

MOSCOW, January 8 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova – A veil of secrecy still covers the exact date of Kim Jong Un's birth date, sparking a debate over the age of the current leader of North Korea.

'Kim is believed to have turned 32 on Thursday [January 8], but this year there have been no reports of celebrations or even any public mention of the event so far in the reclusive nation. His age is apparently a state secret,' Reuters reported.

Remarkably, exactly one year ago, Dennis Rodman, a retired American professional basketball player, sprang a surprise on the Pyongyang crowd by singing 'Happy Birthday' to Kim Jong Un. North Koreans were confused, as most of them had no idea that it was Kim's birthday. In fact, 'Rodman's song was the first time the date was confirmed at an event where Kim was present,' Reuters points out.

North Korea's media sources still keep their silence over the exact date of Kim Jong Un's birth.

'There is a lot of debate about the year he was born. Some say it is 1984 while others say is '83 or '82,' noted Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the South Korea's Sejong Institute, as quoted by CNN.

And it does look strange as the birthdays of Kim's predecessors are celebrated nationwide in North Korea. The birthday of Kim Il Sung, called the Day of the Sun, is widely celebrated on April 15, while Kim Jong Il's birthday, on February 16, is marked as a national holiday dubbed the Day of the Shining Star. On these days, the state hands out presents to North Korea's citizens with children usually getting sweets.

'There's a lot of speculation why that's the case. Kim could be trying to put out this image as a humble guy, that he's not extravagant. Then there's sort of negative take on this issue, as to he's still very young, 29, 30 or 31. When you start marking his birthday, then the whole North Korean people will start to wonder, then what's his age?' said Professor Lee Jung Hoon from Yonsei University in South Korea, as cited by CNN.

Revealing the age of the leader of North Korea may trigger speculation regarding his experience as a head of the country, experts point out.

However, sweets and goods have been regularly distributed on January 7-8 in North Korea, since Kim Jong Un assumed his high role in the state, USA Today underscores, citing Park Young Ho, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

'He [Kim Jong Un] wants to show the people he keeps his birthday simple by showing affection to ordinary people and filial piety to his father and grandfather,' Park said.

Despite growing international pressure on North Korea, Kim was very successful in consolidating his power in the state, notes the expert. '(His) power grip is relatively secure, and he's been very successful in consolidating his power for the past three years [since Kim Jong Il's death in 2011],' Park Young Ho stressed.


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