N. Korea to distribute badges with Kim Jong-un’s face to government officials

July 8, 2015
Government officials in North Korea will be given badges featuring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's face to wear to symbolize the leader's "support." (Yonhap/KCNA)

Government officials in North Korea will be given badges featuring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s face to wear to symbolize the leader’s “support.” (Yonhap/KCNA)

By Kim Hyo-jin

North Korea is producing new badges featuring Kim Jong-un’s face as well as portraits of its former leaders, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

“The North is manufacturing badges showing the faces of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un together to mark the 70th anniversary of the Workers’ Party on Oct. 10,” the Chosun Ilbo reported, quoting a source.

“Three-thousand badges will be disseminated to top-level party officials and cadres of the Party Youth before the anniversary, symbolizing Kim’s trust in them,” said the source.

A portrait badge of young leader Kim Jong-un was reportedly produced in late 2012, and worn by elite members of the party since 2013. However, this marks the first time that North Korea has produced badges featuring the three generations of the Kims together.

A North Korea expert said that the badges herald the “official beginning of the Kim Jong-un era.”

“The new badge signifies that Kim Jong-un is now acknowledged as an equal leader to the previous ones, not a mere successor,” Ahn Chan-il, the head of the World North Korea Research Center, told The Korea Times.

The first portrait badge of Kim Il-sung was introduced in 1970, derived by the nation’s zeal for the personality cult, North Korea expert Andrei Lankov noted in his book “North of the DMZ.” They were widely distributed to North Korean citizens after Kim Il-sung’s 60th birthday in 1972.

Kim Il-sung’s successor Kim Jong-il also produced his portrait badges in 1992 to mark his 50th birthday.

Portrait badges of the Kim family vary in type, and each speaks volumes about its bearer, according to Lankov. The most precious badge is one showing both Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il against the background of a large red banner. They were assigned to top officials following the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011.