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N.K. steps up personality cult around leader Kim ahead of May congress

All Headlines 17:02 April 08, 2016

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is stepping up efforts to glorify leader Kim Jong-un in the run-up to the ruling party's landmark congress in May which would focus on solidifying Kim's one-man leadership, a government official said Friday.

"I think the main goal of the upcoming party congress would be to build up Kim Jong-un's one-man rule," Lim Byeong-cheol, director general of the Unification Ministry's Intelligence and Analysis Bureau, said in a conference on North Korea policy earlier in the day.

"As part of that project, North Korea is beefing up the glorification of Kim Jong-un," Lim said.

North Korea is elevating its treatment of the current leader to the level of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, the official said, referring to the previous leaders who hold almost sacred images in North Korea's propaganda work.

But, the accelerating idolization efforts only highlight how empty Pyongyang's much-stressed policy focus on common North Koreans are, he said, adding that the country is funneling its finances into propaganda work, rather than improving the welfare of its people.

There are possibilities this could lead to a surge in public complaints, Lim said.

North Korea's recent series of bellicose rhetoric and provocations may be intended to promote internal unity and showcase its dual pursuit of economic and military growth, he said.

"This could mean that (North Korea's) threats of further provocations may not be ungrounded," he said.

North Korea is set to convene its first party congress of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the highest-level political guidance body, in more than 30 years in early May.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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