North Korea is expected to celebrate the upcoming birthday of its leader-in-waiting in a fashion as low-profile as last year even though he has since been appointed to political and military posts, a South Korean official said Thursday.
The North Korean ruling party and military celebrated the Jan. 8 birthday of Kim Jong-un last year with athletic meetings, propaganda music recitals and other “internal” events, the Unification Ministry official said, asking not to be named citing the intelligence nature of the information.
“This year’s celebration will likely be on a similar scale even though we’re monitoring other possible preparations ahead of the birthday,” which falls on Saturday, the official said.
The official said the South Korean government does not rule out the possibility of more exuberant celebrations because Kim, who will turn 28 or 29, now has official posts, unlike this time last year.
In a Workers’ Party convention in September, Kim, the youngest son of leader Kim Jong-il, was named as a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, just days after he was unveiled to the world as a four-star general.
Kim has since accompanied his 68-year-old father on so-called field guidance trips more than 30 times. Resembling his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded the communist state, he has never given a public speech. Analysts say Kim Jong-il may be grooming his son as successor ahead of 2012, a year North Korea has designated as a moment in its history to rise as a “powerful, prosperous and great country” on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung.