Conflict & Justice

North Korea marks Kim Jong Un's birthday with special video


This television screen grab taken from North Korean TV shows thousands of North Koreans as they hold a mass rally in support for their country's policies and new leader Kim Jong-Un at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Jan. 3, 2012.


Kim Jae-Hwan

North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, reportedly has his birthday today, and to celebrate, state TV aired a special documentary that highlights his military leadership.

GlobalPost in-depth series: After Kim Jong Il

The footage indicates that Kim Jong Un was in charge of some military operations as early as 2009, The Associated Press reported. At one point, he can be seen vowing to "wage a real war" if North Korea's enemies shoot down its long-range rocket at its launch in April that year.

The documentary also shows Kim Jong Un driving a tank, riding a horse and giving orders to artillery, navy and air force troops, according to Agence France Presse:

"The respected comrade Kim Jong Un is perfectly versed in all military strategies and ... displays excellent military leadership," said the film, over images of soldiers jumping in joy at seeing him on field trips.

He wrote his first thesis on military strategy when he was 16, the documentary claimed, and was hailed by his late father Kim Jong Il as "the multi-talented, genius of the geniuses in military knowledge."

According to the BBC, the video forms part of North Korea's sustained media campaign to consolidate Kim Jong Un's leadership since his father's death. At 28 or 29, he is much younger than most of the powerful military officials he is supposed to command, an was not known to have had any significant military experience.

Aside from the documentary, however, there was no sign of public celebration of the Outstanding Leader's birthday, the Seoul-based Korea Herald reported. In contrast, the official birthdays of Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung are national holidays, traditionally marked with festivals and fireworks.

One reason could be that Jan. 8 is not Kim Jong Un's birthday after all: as Korea expert Bradley K. Martin has pointed out on GlobalPost, his official Jan. 8, 1982, birthdate is biologically impossible, since his mother supposedly gave birth to his elder brother Kim Jong Chol just three and a half months earlier, on Sept. 25, 1981.

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