A year before North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to power, a directive was issued for anyone sharing his name to change it — maintaining a tradition upheld by the reclusive state’s ruling Kim dynasty, a report said.
An internal state document obtained by South Korea’s KBS TV station contains an “administrative order” from then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for all party, army and police officials to ensure the directive was carried out.
The order was issued in January 2011, shortly after Kim Jong-un had been effectively anointed as his father’s successor. Kim Jong-il died in December of that year.
“All party organs and public security authorities should make a list of residents named Kim Jong-un ... and train them to voluntarily change their names,” said the document, extracts of which were aired by KBS on Tuesday.
The process involved revising names on official documents, including social security cards and school diplomas.
Officials were also directed to reject birth certificates for any newborns named Kim Jong-un.
“Authorities should make sure that there is no one making unnecessary complaints or spreading gossip ... regarding this project,” it added.
The authenticity of the official directive could not be independently verified, and the South Korean Ministry of Unification declined to comment on whether it was genuine.
However, one government official said that the Pyongyang regime is known to have banned citizens sharing the names of founding president Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il.
“Given [that] the North maintained the policy under the two previous leaders, there is a possibility that it would continue to do so now,” the ministry official said.
Park Jin-hee, a North Korean defector working for KBS who obtained the document, said she was sure the 2011 directive had been effectively enforced.
“There is no one in the North named Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and there is no doubt the same rule applies for Jong-un,” said Park, who defected in 2008.
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