Date
21 September 2017
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a military factory in this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. Photo: Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a military factory in this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. Photo: Reuters

Take not thy ruler’s name in vain

In some, if not most, cultures, parents name their children after someone whom they highly esteem or venerate. Such a tradition cuts across religions, which is why we have multitudes of Christians named Jesus or Mary and Muslims named after the Prophet Muhammad. The parents’ fond hope is that their children will grow up emulating the good traits of the person after whom they are named.

Now here comes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issuing an edict that none could share his name, and those who already have should change it, according to BBC News, citing reports from KBS Television and Yonhap News Agency.

The directive was issued as early as 2011, but has been made public only now. It is also believed to apply to Kim’s father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung.

Compliance with the rule is voluntary, but in the authoritarian state who would dare disobey?

The BBC’s Charles Scanlon says such a prohibition on the use of a ruler’s name already existed in the ancient dynasties of China and its Confucian neighbors. And in North Korea, people ascribe divine stature to their rulers, who demand nothing less.

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