N.Korea Heir Apparent 'Given More Auspicious Birthday'

North Korean authorities have publicized the age of Kim Jong-un, leader Kim Jong-il's third son and heir apparent, as 27 since June, a year older than he was previously thought to be, NHK quoted experts as saying Thursday.

According to NHK, North Korean officials have told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang since June that Kim junior was born in 1982. Previously, they said he was born on Jan. 8, 1983.

It could be a question of round numbers. The channel speculated that the North is trying to make it look as though Kim junior turns 30 in 2012, because that is the year Pyongyang has set as a goal for achieving a "powerful and prosperous" nation. It is also the centenary of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung's birth and Kim Jong-il's 70th birthday.   

"It seems that North Korean leadership is attempting to boost the aura surrounding Kim Jong-un by emphasizing that he will reach an auspicious age alongside his father, in 2012, the centenary of his grandfather's birth," NHK said. It said the change of birth date seems to confirm rumors that Kim Jong-un is being primed for the succession given that Kim Jong-il's year of birth was also changed before he became leader.

Kim Jong-il's official birthday is Feb. 16, 1942, but he was apparently born in 1941.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 11, 2009 09:57 KST