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(2nd LD) N.K. to hold int'l events to praise Kim's family next year

All Headlines 17:08 October 11, 2016

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; ADDS more info in paras 6, 9)

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea plans to hold international events in August 2017 to bolster the personality cult of three generations of late founder Kim Il-sung's family, Pyongyang's state media said Tuesday.

The North plans to hold gatherings to praise the accomplishments of the Kim family at Mount Baekdu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, and in Pyongyang next year, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea's founder Kim, his son Kim Jong-il and the North's current leader Kim Jong-un are called the Mount Baekdu bloodline in the country, which helps reinforce the legitimacy of the Kim family's three-generation succession.

The KCNA said that next year will be important as it marks the 105th anniversary of the late founder's birthday and the 75th birthday of Kim Jong-il, who died in late 2011 due to heart failure.

The year 2017 will also mark the fifth anniversary of the current leader Kim Jong-un being elected to the first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). At a party congress in May, Kim's title was changed to the WPK's chairman.

(2nd LD) N.K. to hold int'l events to praise Kim's family next year - 1

The KCNA said that colorful political and cultural events will take place throughout next year and kick off with the celebration of the incumbent leader's birthday in January.

The move is seen as North Korea's bid to break away from international isolation while promoting the Kim Jong-un regime by highlighting his one-man leadership.

North Korea has strengthened the personality cult of the current leader since Kim took office in December 2011 following the sudden death of his father.

"By highlighting the legitimacy of Kim's family lineage, North Korea seems to seek to maximize the idolization of Kim Jong-un," said Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies.

The North's media said that Kim Ki-nam, a vice chairman of the WPK's central committee, and former Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar will serve as honorary chairmen of a preparatory committee for the event.

It also said that the second daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, and Kim Jong-suk, the head of North Korea's committee on cultural relations, will work as co-chairpersons.

An official at Seoul's unification ministry said that the North wants to promote to the outside world that foreign figures are backing the event designed to praise the Kim family.

"It seems that the foreign figures mentioned in the report are supporting the event on a personal level, not on a national level," the official said. "In the face of international sanctions, North Korea appears to use foreigners to show that the Kim family's appeal is gaining momentum outside the country."

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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