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N. Koreans in Pyongyang seen wearing badge of young leader: sources

All Headlines 13:38 June 03, 2013

BEIJING, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Some North Koreans living in the capital Pyongyang have been sighted wearing the badge bearing the image of Kim Jong-un in a sign that the young leader is rapidly consolidating power, sources in China said Monday.

Multiple sources in Beijing who have access to North Korea said the new badges appeared in Pyongyang for the first time last month, although there are indications that they were handed out to internal security forces late last year.

All North Koreans except pre-teens are required to wear lapel pins bearing the images of their two late leaders, Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il. at all times. Now, a new pin bearing the image of the current leader is added to them.

Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the North's founder Kim Il-sung, inherited power after his father Kim Jong-il died in 2011. The leader, believe to be around 30, has steadily solidified his control over the country.

Sources said that the new badge has not been widely circulated even within the capital, with only senior ruling party members and government officials sporting it on their lapel.

The badge is a sign of respect and loyalty and is viewed as part of the personality cult the North is trying to build around its new leader.

Kim Jong-un was made the supreme commander of the North's military right after his father's 2011 death. The following year, he was made first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and first chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.

A source in the Chinese capital said the use of the new badge signifies that the young leader's power is secure and his confidence is growing.

North Korean watchers also note that the public notice board set up outside Pyongyang's embassy in Beijing has removed the photos of the country's two late leaders, leaving only those depicting the current leader.

Right after Kim Jong-il death, the North Korean Embassy in Beijing displayed photos of the country's founder and his son as well as Kim Jong-un.

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