Kim Jong Un-acceptable? North Korean leader seen flouting anti-smoking push

Campaign ads warning of the dangers of smoking had encouraged many citizens to quit, state media said

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North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un has been seen smoking – during a national anti-smoking campaign.

In a photo released by the state news agency on June 4, the grinning leader can be seen standing outside a children’s center, lit cigarette in hand, flanked by officials scribbling into notepads.

Last month, the agency reported a national anti-smoking drive, announcing that state-sanctioned cigarette makers would be required to put health warning notices on packaging.

Campaign ads warning of the dangers of smoking had encouraged many citizens to quit, state media said.

Large numbers of North Koreans are known to smoke, and cigarettes cost only 27 cents a pack.

Since coming to power three years ago after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, Kim has regularly been seen smoking in official pictures - even at the site of a rocket launch.

According to the former sushi chef of Kim’s late father Kim Jong-il, the now-supreme leader has been fond of smoking since his youth.

Japanese national Kenji Fujimoto recalled in a book that young Kim would sometimes ask him for one of his luxury Yves Saint Laurent cigarettes – but kept the habit a secret from his father.

Kim Jong il, was also believed to be a heavy smoker, and was seen puffing on a cigarette on state media in 2009, some two years before his death of a heart attack. However, he was said to have given up cigarettes - and his beloved French cognac - on doctor’s orders back in 2000.

In 2014, Kim Jong-un reportedly banned his aides and officials from smoking foreign cigarettes, insisting that local ones were good enough. It is not known which brand he smokes.

North Korea announced Thursday it will convene a rare parliamentary session late this month, when it may confer a new title on leader Kim Jong-Un as he further tightens his grip on power.

“The fourth session of the 13th SPA (Supreme People’s Assembly) will be convened in Pyongyang on June 29”, the official KCNA news agency said.

As usual, it gave no other details, including on the session’s agenda.

The Supreme People’s Assembly meets only once or twice a year, mostly for day-long sessions to rubber-stamp budgets or other decisions made by the ruling communist party.

At a congress of the Workers Party of Korea last month, the first event of its kind for more than 35 years, Kim was elected as party chairman.

The parliamentary session may also grant Kim a new state title to replace his current one as “first chairman” of the powerful National Defence Commission (NDC).

He was stuck with the awkward title as North Korea had named Kim’s predecessor and father, the late Kim Jong-Il, as permanent chairman of the NDC.

“At the parliamentary session, the North may come up with a new state organ, for example, a supreme national council, and make Kim its head,” professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies told AFP.

At the party congress in May, Kim stressed he would push through with his signature policy of Byungjin -- building up the North’s nuclear arsenal and developing the economy simultaneously.

He then unveiled a five-year economic plan, with a particular focus on increasing energy output.

The upcoming parliamentary session is expected to approve government policies and legal changes aimed at carrying out those policies and approve personnel changes within government agencies.

(With AFP)

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