Kim Jong-un has reportedly sent one kilo (2.2 pounds) of sweets to every child in the country to mark his birthday on Tuesday, a tradition carried by North Korean leaders before him.
North Koreans “exploded with joy” at the “birthday candy” which was airlifted to ensure that every child aged 10 or under receive the gifts in time, a radio report by the North Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.
The tradition was instigated by his grandfather and North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung in 1980 and was continued by his father when he took over in 1994. The birthdays of the two late leaders are both celebrated as national holidays.
Kim Jong-un’s birthday is on January 8, although various reports claim he was born between 1982 to 1984.
According to Cho Bong-Hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul, the gesture is aimed at projecting a “caring” image for the young leader as North Korea seeks to “build up a personality cult” around Kim Jong-un, whose leadership style has been seemingly different from his late father, AFP reports. Many people, say the UN, go without adequate food and live in poverty.
Kim made a televised speech on New Year’s eve, the first public address for a North Korean leader in almost two decades.