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NORTH KOREA 16 Feb 2012 Kim Jong-il turns 70 – or 71

Communist dictator’s Kim Jong-il’s 70th birthday – or 71st – will be celebrated extravagantly as usual but overshadowed by the centenary celebra

February 16, 2012 - NULL

NORTH KOREA 16 Feb 2012 Kim Jong-il turns 70 - or 71

Communist dictator's Kim Jong-il's 70th birthday - or 71st - will be celebrated extravagantly as usual but overshadowed by the centenary celebrations in April for his late father, Kim il-Sung, the regime's founder. The birthday pictures will offer an opportunity to assess the state of the dictator's health after an apparent stroke in 2008 and to speculate on surprises at the centenary celebrations. The possibilities include Kim remaining in power, or for his successor to be a dark horse.

Russian records say Kim was born in 1941, but

NORTH KOREA 16 Feb 2012 Kim Jong-il turns 70 - or 71

Communist dictator's Kim Jong-il's 70th birthday - or 71st - will be celebrated extravagantly as usual but overshadowed by the centenary celebrations in April for his late father, Kim il-Sung, the regime's founder. The birthday pictures will offer an opportunity to assess the state of the dictator's health after an apparent stroke in 2008 and to speculate on surprises at the centenary celebrations. The possibilities include Kim remaining in power, or for his successor to be a dark horse.

Russian records say Kim was born in 1941, but most sources say it was 1942.

For his weeklong birthday celebration in 2011, Kim was feted with state-organized events that included a synchronized swimming show and a mass flower show of red Kimjongilias, a special bloom developed for the founder.

The impoverished state has set 2012 as a deadline for attaining the status of "a strong and prosperous nation," according to an AFP report, amid efforts by the regime to transfer power from leader Kim Jong-Il to his third and youngest son, Jong-Un. Some analysts see the possibility that the Kim might not have the last word on the succession. A dark horse could be a Jong-Un sibling. It's also possible a high-ranking member of the governing communist party or the military has designs on Kim's job and more sway than the ailing Kim.

Following Kim's stroke, he was seen very little. He has been seen in public In recent months, suggesting he is enjoying better health. It is widely believed that he plans to hand over power in 2012, but more robust health could see him less willing to exit. And Kim Jong-Un's promotion to the rank of general is seen as an indication of his eventual succession, but it is far from clear that he will attain supreme power. It is possible, if he is named as leader, that he will be no more than a figurehead.

Kim il-Sung remains the country's "Eternal President" even while his son now leads. The founder ruled the country for four decades until his death in 1994. The two Kims are the focus of an intense cult of personality in the nation of 24 million people, and there are signs Kim Jong-Un's image is also undergoing a makeover. (WRITTEN Jul 2011)

RELATED READING:

N. Korea holds local elections (AFP 22 Jul 2011)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g
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One Korea, one enormous challenge (SMH 30 Jul 2011)
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/one-korea-one
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Date written/update: 2012-02-16