According to a startling rumor, North Korea has banned anyone from naming their child after the current dictator, Kim Jong Un. Not only that, but anyone who happens to share parts of their name in common with the ruler must make changes immediately.
The report first emerged courtesy of the state-run KBS in South Korea, although South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which is in charge of relations between the two nations, could not immediately confirm if this were true.
— CNBC (@CNBC) December 3, 2014
However, the government body has said that if there is truth to the report, it wouldn’t be surprising.
Said a ministry official, “The ban is highly possible since North Korea had the same policy in the era of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.”
According to KBS, the alleged degree meant that newborn children from this point forward could not be named after Kim Jong Un. The ban is also retroactive, which meant that anyone currently sharing a name with the leader must change it.
This will likely require thousands of people to file paperwork to have identification cards and birth certificates updated immediately.
Which, of course, means that this process would take many weeks, if not months.
— U.S. News (@usnews) December 3, 2014
And yet, it’s expected that North Koreans would willingly undergo this process as soon as possible. Firstly, because defiance of North Korea’s leader could possibly bring about horrific consequences.
Second because, as shared by the Unification Ministry official, there is already precedent, and so it would not seem wholly unexpected to the obedient population of North Korea.
As for why these name bans occur, it is widely believed that the move creates a “cults of personality” around the Kim Dynasty, further distinguishing the family from the rest of the population.
In other words, the propaganda and behaviors encourage citizens to view these persons as superhuman, or even as deities.
While this instance of name banning may seem extreme, it’s not entirely unusual for a government to make certain declarations with regard which names are legal and which are not.
For instance in certain countries, names must be approved before they are finalized.
When there are no such restrictions, parents may be inspired to go to disturbing extremes in how they name their children.
While parents may want their children to be special, the names may open them up to years of bullying and ridicule.
It’s also not unusual for parents to name their children after a popular fictional character or even a celebrity.
Strangely enough, the supposed decree in North Korea may have occurred for that reason, with citizens naming their children after Kim Jong Un as a way to honor or connect with him.
[Image Credit: ODN]