North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has banned people giving their children the same name as his daughter.
The prohibition not only applies to newborns but also means those who already bear the name will be forced to choose a new one.
Since her introduction to the world during a missile launch in November, experts have speculated that the dictator’s daughter Kim Ju-ae may be being groomed as his eventual successor.
According to a source in North Pyongan Province, where the border with China lies, those with the Ju-ae name in the Chongju region have been summoned by the security services.
Speaking to Radio Free Asia, the person said: ‘The security ministry summoned women registered with the resident registration department under the name ‘Ju-ae’ to the Ministry of Safety to change their names.
‘There was a 12-year-old girl named ‘Ju-ae’ in the people’s unit where I live.
‘The Ministry of Safety’s resident registration department called the girl’s parents to the Ministry of Safety and forced her to change her name and change her birth certificate.’
Officials apparently told the family that the name was now exclusively reserved for people of ‘the highest dignity’.
Other sources have reported similar incidents in South Pyongan Province. A person there said: ‘Even the name ‘Ju Ae’ is being controlled so that ordinary citizens cannot use it.
‘Yesterday, the Pyongsong City Security Department issued an internal order from the central government to change the name of women who use the name ‘Ju-ae’ within a week.’
According to Michael Madden, an expert on the North Korean elite, this practice is not new in the secretive state.
In fact, the prohibition of using Kim Jong-un’s name was one of the first indications of his ascent to power.
He said: ‘The regime can and has regulated what names North Korean citizens use.
‘This is something we have previously observed – they issued instructions on individuals with the name Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.
‘In fact, one of the tell-tale signs of Kim Jong-un’s own succession, 12 years ago, was that resident registration restricted use of the name ‘Jong-un’.
‘This practice goes back to the 1970s and has involved various members of the Kim family.’
Last week, Kim Ju-ae was seen taking centre stage at a nuclear missile parade, several days before her father warned he was willing to take strong and decisive action over military drills being conducted by the US and South Korea.
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