Kim Jong-un 'erases his father and grandfather' from new mandatory national oath

Julian Ryall
Kim Jong-un attending a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean People's Army - AFP

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has introduced a new national oath playing down the achievements of his father and grandfather and instead praising his own ideology and leadership.

The oath, which must be recited by all citizens, was originally introduced in the 1970s, when Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation and the grandfather of the present dictator, exercised control over the nation.

The oath was made up of 10 articles that extolled the wisdom and greatness of Mr Kim and, after his death in July 1994, his son, Kim Jong-il.

Declared by workers, students and members of the armed forces on national holidays and key anniversaries of the Workers’ Party, citizens have been required to swear to “arm themselves with the ideals” of the nation’s first two leaders, the Seoul-based DailyNK news site reported.

Citizens were then required to commit themselves to applying those ideals to every facet of their lives - in the workplace, school and family - and “to forever dedicate their lives as if they were worth nothing but for the great achievements of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the Workers’ Party of Korea”.

Former North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il shakes hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright  Credit: AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File

Quoting sources in the North, the media outlet said failing to attend an oath meeting would mark a citizen out as being potentially politically unreliable.

The oath has not been changed for more than 40 years, the sources said, although the present hereditary ruler of North Korea has apparently decided that it needed to be revised.

The new version of the oath reduces the number of articles from 10 to five, shortening the time required to recite the full text. The revised oaths have effectively edited out Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, leaving only a brief comment on their “will and spirit”, DailyNK reported.

Kim Jong-un's family tree

Instead, a passage has been inserted that is a declaration of loyalty to the ideology and leadership of Kim Jong-un.

The complete white-washing of past leaders has never been attempted before in North Korea and runs counter to the concept of the Kim family being benevolent parent-figures to the population through the generations.

Mr Kim’s efforts to eclipse his forefathers is likely to be another attempt to shore up his own domestic support base at the same time as reinvigorating his subjects' revolutionary spirit. 

North Korean soldiers carry flags and a photo of late leader Kim Il Sung during a military parade  Credit: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

It has also been suggested that it may be part of a manoeuvre to weaken the “old guard” in political and military circles who may have been more loyal to previous regimes.

In Washington, meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Friday extended US sanctions on North Korea for another year, citing the “unusual and extraordinary” threat posed by the regime’s nuclear weapons programme.

The announcement came 10 days after Mr Trump’s summit in Singapore with Mr Kim, during which the North Korean leader committed himself to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula in return for US security guarantees.