South Korean experts have told UPI that a switch in the official date for celebrating the founding of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) is a sign that leader Kim Jong-un wants to step out of his predecessors’ shadows by honing his own military reputation.
The assessment follows a disclosure by North Korean state media this week that Pyongyang is changing the date of the KPA’s establishment, which previously fell on April 25, to February 8.
UPI noted that the KPA was officially established on February 8, 1948. But the North’s “Army Foundation Day” has been observed on April 25 to mark the formation of the prior “Korean People’s Revolutionary Army” in 1932, under North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung.
The force reputedly mobilized workers, farmers and students to fight against Japan’s military before Korea was freed from Japanese rule in 1945.
“It appears Kim Jong-un is trying to build up his own, independent regime rather than rely on past merits and the significance of the resistance against Japanese imperialism,” Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul told UPI.
Kim Il-sung is the current North Korean leader’s late grandfather. Kim Jong-il is his deceased father.
Chung Sung-jang, director of unification strategy studies at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, says Kim, above all, wants to beat the drum about his success in advancing his country’s nuclear weapons program.
“The differentiation lies in the confidence that he achieved full nuclear capability,” he said, noting that Kim had emphasized the need for strategic weapons since he took power.