North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (C, pictured October 10, 2022) has vowed to develop the country's nuclear forces at the fastest possible speed


  • North Korea requires citizens aged 14 to 35 to call their 38-year-old leader Kim Jong Un "respected father"
  • Kim's grandfather and father were previously referred to by that title but at a later age
  • A North Korean resident said the move would only lead young people to dislike Kim even more

North Korea is forcing its young people to call their leader Kim Jong Un "respected father" as it intensifies its propaganda campaign to foster loyalty.

The requirement was mentioned in new educational materials distributed to youth organizations that North Korean citizens aged 35 years old and younger must attend monthly, Radio Free Asia reported, citing unnamed residents familiar with the matter.

North Korea's latest move was seen as Kim's attempt to perpetuate the personality cult built around his grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong Il, who took on the title of respected father at the age of 55 and 53, respectively, during their time as the country's leaders.

"According to this month's educational lecture, young people between the ages of 14 and 35 now have to call the general secretary their father, even though he is estimated to be 38 years old," a resident of North Korea's northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA's Korean service on the condition of anonymity for security reasons.

"Even though Kim Jong Un is of a similar age to some of them, they have to call him father, and it takes on a political meaning," the unnamed North Korean resident added.

However, North Korea's propaganda campaign reportedly only pushed young people to dislike Kim's regime even more, as many residents still consider their leader young and inexperienced.

A female North Korean resident living in the northern province of Ryanggang said that the move comes across as clueless amid the widespread starvation in the country.

"Resentment among young people is rising," the resident told RFA on the condition of anonymity.

The North Korean woman suggested that Kim's new title may be part of a broader propaganda campaign that included more public appearances of their leader and his family.

"It seems that ... it was preparatory work to make himself the father of the people," the resident said.

Last month, North Korea launched a new propaganda reading campaign to foster its citizens' loyalty to Kim's regime.

The reading campaign required all North Korean citizens to read 10,000 pages of propaganda materials, which was seen as Pyongyang's move to counter "reactionary" South Korean popular culture.

North Korean residents who spoke to RFA anonymously for security reasons said they were ordered to read Kim's speeches and transcripts of the ruling party's plenary meetings. They are also required to maintain personal reading journals and write the key feelings and thoughts from what they read.

But the residents complained that the materials they were required to read were "nothing but propaganda" and contained only praises for Kim.

Inside North Korea
North Korean students perform during a meeting of school youth and children themed "The dear Generalissimo Kim Il Sung is our eternal sun", one of festivities timed for the 100th birth anniversary of Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea, in front of Kim's statue at Changdok School in Pyongyang April 6, 2012 in this picture released by the North's KCNA on April 6, 2012. KCNA/REUTERS