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04 March 2024

N. Korea hails 'genius' new leader on birthday


North Korea praised its young new leader Sunday as "the genius among the geniuses" in military strategy on what is believed to be his birthday, the first since he took command after his father's death.

In a documentary about Kim Jong-Un's virtues, state television showed the leader driving a tank and giving orders to troops in artillery, navy and air force units, lauding his "excellent military leadership".

"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 Kim on field trips.

Communist North Korea has proclaimed Jong-Un, who is believed to be in his late 20s, as "great successor" to his father Kim Jong-Il, who died of a heart attack on December 17. 

The heir has been appointed the supreme commander of the North's 1.2 million-strong military, the world's fourth largest, which under the regime's "Songun" ideology enjoys priority treatment in all fields of policy.

Kim Jong-Un was a relative unknown until recently and has no known military experience.

However, the documentary said he wrote his first thesis on military strategy at the age of 16, after sleeping only three to four hours a night and often skipping meals to study.

"Our great general Kim Jong-Il... called him (Jong-Un) the multi-talented, genius of the geniuses in military knowledge," it said, describing him as "the spitting image" of his father and grandfather in personality and leadership.

It also said Jong-Un had accompanied his father to the country's satellite command centre in April 2009 when the North staged a controversial launch.

It said the young heir then vowed to "quash the enemy's potential attempts for attacks" on the launch, which Pyongyang described as part of a peaceful space program but the US and its allies called a long-range missile test.

Since Kim Jong-Il's death, the reclusive North's state media have launched campaigns to idolise Jong-Un in a similar way to his late father and his grandfather, founding president Kim Il-Sung.

The birthdays of Kim Jong-Il on February 16 and of Kim Il-Sung on April 15 are two of the communist country's most important holidays, often marked by fireworks, extra food rations and other events.

It was not known whether the North has designated January 8 as a public holiday and the documentary did not directly address the new leader's birthday.

The film also did not spell out when the footage was taken. Some of it showed father and son together, but state media have also reported that Kim Jong-Un visited a tank division on January 1.

Jong-Un's birthday was not marked as a holiday in North Korean calendars for 2012, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. Those would have been printed before he took over the leadership.

The North's media said the young leader will continue his father's Songun policy, which has blamed for the deaths of thousands of people to starvation as the isolated, impoverished regime diverts resources to its armed forces.