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North Koreans continue to show adoration at least once annually to Kim Jong Un, who will have led the country for six years in December.
The demonstration of devotion takes place in a large square in Pyongyang, the country’s capital, which traditionally has been home to the elites.
In photos published by Reuters on Thursday, women wear bright, traditional Korean dresses with bows, and men don neatly tucked dress shirts with colorful ties and suit jackets. They raise flowers and their hands to the air in honor of their 33-year-old leader and shout “Mansae!,” a Korean expression akin to “hurray!” as well as “live long!”
Leading up to the celebration, Pyongyang inhabitants are required to increase their work production, a process called a “battle,” for the parade. People are assigned to work units and given tasks beyond their normal duties. During the “70-day battle” in 2016, some work units delivered 110 percent of their quotas, according to a report by state media.
“The fatigue shows in some flower-wavers' faces,” the Reuters report states.
In June 2016, the country announced that the next battle would be 200 days long.
During the parade, people hold flowers, including the national blooms Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, which were designed to pay homage to the leader’s father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather Kim Il Sung. North Koreans pin images of former presidents on their dresses and jackets next to their hearts.
In the nearly six years that Kim Jong Un has been in power, he has executed or purged about 340 people, according to a South Korean think tank, the Institute for National Security Strategy. The North’s gross domestic product, estimated at $1,700, puts in at 215th in the world, after Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Haiti.
The poor living conditions lead many North Koreans to defect to South Korea, although they know an attempt to escape can be deadly.
“In private conversations, some North Koreans quietly lament the shortcomings of their system: It's too bureaucratic, takes too long to get things done, is disorganized,” the Reuters report says. “But few dare to openly criticize the Supreme Leader.”...Read more