SEOUL, May 10 (Korea Bizwire) — “Those who go against the Dignity of the Supreme Leadership will not be able to avoid ruthless punishment.”
This is an excerpt from one of North Korea’s media propaganda reports.
As such, the “Dignity of the Supreme Leadership” refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and is indicative of Kim’s godly status.
But Kim’s most recent use of honorifics when referring to political leaders of other countries is attracting attention, as the young leader’s attempts to expand his international diplomacy efforts become evident.
When Kim wrote a letter to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, thanking him for hosting a meeting in Dalian on Tuesday, he used the expression “dear and respected” in reference to Xi, wishing him “good health,” according to North Korean state media.
The term “dear and respected” was formerly used only for the top leaders in North Korea, marking the first time it has been used for a foreign head of state. It was also the first time such an instance was mentioned in state media.
In the past, former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung was commonly noted as “dear and respected leader”, while his son Kim Jong Il was referred to as the “dear and respected General.”
Kim Jong Un also used honorifics to address South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the inter-Korea summit. The North Korean leader used the word “nim,” a title of respect to refer to Moon.
This is the first time that a North Korean leader has used “nim” as part of the title associated with a South Korean president.
During the inter-Korean summit talks in 2000 and 2007, both former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun were referred to as “president” without the “nim.”
In the joint South-North statement that followed the Panmunjom Declaration, Kim lowered himself by referring to himself as “jeo.”
Analysts say that Kim’s new use of honorifics may be strategically motivated. “Kim’s use of honorifics follows the protocol of diplomacy, but it may also be related to the fact that both Xi and Moon are old enough to be Kim’s uncles,” said Jo Seong-ryeol, a director at the Institute of National Security Strategy.
“It may his way of trying to portray himself as a younger leader of a nation that values good manners.”
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)