WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — North Korea has ordered any person who shares the name of leader Kim Jong Un to immediately change their name, birth certificate and any other legal paperwork.
South Korea’s state-run KBS television reported Wednesday on the North Korean government’s announcement that extends similar name bans for the use of the country’s two former leaders, Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, to North Korea’s current supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, Reuters reports.
Kim Jong Un’s name is banned from use for newborns and people who already share his name must immediately stop use of the name in addition to changing their birth certificates and residence registrations, KBS reports. The North Korean directive is used as part of a propaganda drive to form cults of personality around the country’s leader.
From KBS: “According to the North Korean military’s internal document exclusively obtained by KBS, late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il mobilized authorities to find people with the same name as his son, ‘Jong-un,’ and ordered them to find new names.”
South Korea’s Unification Ministry could not “immediately confirm” the directive, but told Reuters the move was highly plausible.
“The ban is highly possible since North Korea had the same policy in the era of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung,” a ministry official said.
There is no available data for how many people in North Korea may be named Kim Jong Un, although “Kim” and “Jong Un” are common given names in the country.
The U.S. has no formal relations with Pyongyang.
However, last month, the U.S. sent Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American prisoners, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller. Clapper was the highest-level American government emissary to visit North Korea in over a decade.
This follows a string of conciliatory international actions by the North Korean government, including a top diplomat meeting with Americans in New York to refute a United Nations report detailing the country’s human-rights abuses within its prison camp system.