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N. Korean Children Pledge Allegiance to Kim Jong-un at Massive Rally

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A massive juvenile event is in progress in Pyongyang, North Korea this week, where tens of thousands of children have sworn loyalty to North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un.

   Some 40,000 school children, including 20,000 from across the country, gathered in the capital Pyongyang on June 6 to mark the 66th anniversary of the Korean Children's Union (KCU) and pledge allegiance to the young leader who took power after his father's death last December.

   The children's festival, to be held for six days from June 3 to June 8, is the first time such extensive celebrations have been organized for the founding of the KCU.

   Kim Jong-un attended the joint national meeting of the KCU organizations held at the Kim Il-sung stadium named after the nation's late founding president and Kim Jong-un's grandfather.

   He walked into the stadium to the cheers of the young delegates and told the children that they were the future masters of "a most powerful country where every home will be full of laughter and everybody lives in harmony."
The national meeting was "exploded with cheers and shouts of children eager to become Kim Jong-un's loyal sons and daughters," a North Korean TV announcer said. The children were dressed in school uniforms of a white shirt and red scarf or green military attire.

   Kim Jong-un gave his second televised speech at the ceremony attended by top party and military cadres, including his powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek, army chief of staff Ri Yong-ho and ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.

   "You are the honorable youth groups who grew up under the care of the great Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung," said Kim Jong-un, dressed in a dark Mao suit with a red scarf draped around his neck.

   "This is the greatest honor. ... You should be fully prepared to become competent revolutionary workers for the strong and prosperous nation," he told the children at the joint national meeting.

   North Korean children are taught from an early age to be loyal to the Kim family, with education about the childhoods and accomplishments of founder Kim Il-sung and late leader Kim Jong-il beginning in kindergarten.

   The largest-ever youth event comes as the junior Kim is believed to be tightening his grip on power following the December death of his father, the long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

   North Korea watchers say the children's event is most likely a political event to gain loyalty from North Korean residents to the country's new leadership and to increase control of the North Korean regime under Kim Jong-un.

   They also said the North Korean regime is trying to use the youth event to divert the country's unfavorable conditions to other directions.

   The socialist country is in a continued quagmire of external and internal problems such as the failed creation this year of Kangsong Taeguk or a strong and prosperous country, botched rocket launch in April and the extreme drought that hit the western part of the country.

   North Korea said Kim Jong-un has provided the celebrations for the union whose members include children of smelters, coal miners and disabled soldiers.

   It also said the union members have distinguished themselves in the study and displayed their excellent skills in international contests of fine arts. North Korean officials and soldiers have also repeatedly vowed their loyalty to Kim Jong-un.

   On June 2, the North Korean children received the delegate certificates at the April 25 Hotel in Pyongyang. The delegates were highly delighted to receive the certificates carrying a benevolent image of the dear respected Kim Jong-un, the KCNA reported.

   On June 4, the KCU delegates visited the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung and former leader Kim Jong-il lie in state.

   "They bowed toward the portraits of smiling President Kim Il-sung and leader Kim Jong-il hung on the facade of the palace in boundless reverence for them who left behind legends about the loving care for the younger generation to be conveyed in the long history, valuing and loving them as the future of the country, successors to the revolution and kings of the country," according to the KCNA report.

   On June 4, the KCU delegates visited Mangyongdae, the birthplace of Kim Il-sung, which is often called the "cradle of the revolution." They were guided to the old home of Kim Il-sung there after making a round at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Museum.

   They also visited the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Mt. Taesong. They laid bouquets before the grave of Kim Jong-suk, the wife of Kim Il-sung who is an anti-Japanese war hero, and paid homage to her.

   They also visited the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Memorial Tower. The KCNA said they determined to carry forward the spirit displayed by the heroes in unhesitatingly dedicating their lives and youth to the Workers' Party and leader during the last Fatherland Liberation War.

   "The tower was built to convey the heroic feats of the Korean army and people in defeating the U.S.-led imperialist allied forces to defend the freedom and sovereignty of the country in the Fatherland Liberation War (June 1950-July 1953)," according to the KCNA. North Koreans call the Korean War the Fatherland Liberation War.

   "They stressed it is the rock-firm faith of three million KCU members that their happiness and rosy future can be guaranteed only when the socialist system is reliably defended."

   Meanwhile, they visited Kimilsung University and the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm. They enjoyed performances given by the artists of the National Symphony Orchestra and acrobats, and had a pleasant time in the Kaeson Youth Park.

   The KCU was founded in 1946 right after the liberation of the country from Japan's colonization as an heir to the revolutionary tradition of the anti-Japanese Children's Corps, according to Pyongyang's accounts. The members of the KCU range from 7 years old to 13 years old.

   Initially launched by the late North Korean founding leader Kim Il-sung, the KCU is the successor to the Saenal Children's Union, the first revolutionary organization of children in Korea, which was established on Dec. 15, 1926 during the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle.

   The Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said on June 2, "The celebrations represent special events unprecedented in the history in their width and depth, scale and period, circumstances and background.

   "Kim Jong-un, possessed of the noblest outlook on the younger generation, has led the work to significantly hold the celebrations of the union with the greatest splendor on an unprecedented scale," the newspaper said. "It is the noble intention of Kim Jong-un to let the members of the KCU learn from the ardent patriotism of President Kim Il-sung and leader Kim Jong-il and stoutly grow to be descendants of Kim Il-sung and soldiers and disciples of Kim Jong-il."

   The children's festival came when the North's military recently threatened rocket attacks on the Seoul offices of South Korean media outlets for their critical coverage of the children's event this week. It accused the South's conservative government and media outlets of portraying the event as a propaganda gimmick staged by Pyongyang's leadership.

   In this connection, the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League and the Korean Children's Union issued a joint statement denouncing the South Korean government on June 5. It said that South Korea's "Lee Myung-bak group of traitors were letting loose a spate of invectives about the celebrations of the union through its paid trumpeters."

   The report by the KCNA said, "The most splendid celebrations of the 66th anniversary of the union can be called another legend about love as they are the fruition of the warm loving care the dear respected Kim Jong-un has shown...

   "But the Lee Myung-bak group set in motion its paid trumpeters to launch a smear campaign over the events. What enrages the Korean people is that the group malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK (North Korea), likening it to the Nazi tyrant of Germany.

   "This is an intolerable provocative act of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK, which its people regard as more valuable than their own lives and an unbearable insult and mockery of the Korean school youth and children who have grown with nothing to desire more in the world under the care of the peerlessly great persons of Mt. Paektu."

   Claiming that the Korean school youth and children's resentment and hatred against the group are running high, the school youth and children in the DPRK are ardently calling on the Korean People's Army to deal heavy blows in revenge upon the despicable provocateurs as early as possible as already declared in the open ultimatum.