North Koreans are prohibited from sharing the name of their leader, South Korean media reported Wednesday.
The ban on anyone being named Kim Jong Un would probably affect thousands in the reclusive nation as the surname Kim is one of the most common in both Korean states and the given name Jong Un is also popular.
The prohibition reportedly stems from a January 2011 edict issued in Pyongyang, 11 months before Kim came to power after his father's death, that proposed that any North Koreans named Kim Jong Un "voluntarily" change their name, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
"North Korea ordered its people not to use the name 'Kim Jong Un' in a bid to protect the supreme authority of the current leader," Yonhap said, adding that even the given name alone was off-limits.
South Korea's KBS network also reported that the government had recently reiterated that "no newborn could be given the name, and those who already had it should amend their birth certificates."
"All party organs and public security authorities should make a list of residents named Kim Jong Un … and train them to voluntarily change their names," KBS reported, citing a document it said had been provided by a North Korean defector.
Seoul government statistics show Jong Un is the ninth most popular given name in South Korea, where it is often transliterated differently from North Korea's spelling as Jung-eun. A well-known South Korean actress and music talk show host is named Kim Jung-eun.
The names of the North Korean leader's father and grandfather, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the communist state's founder, were also reserved for their sole use, the media reported.
North Korea's leaders present themselves and their comrades from the ruling Workers' Party as austere revolutionaries but often engage in the same building of personality cults that marked the reigns of their imperial predecessors.
Kim disappeared from the public arena for 40 days this autumn, prompting speculation about a coup d'etat or failing health. He reemerged in mid-October after what sources said was an absence due to surgery to remove a cyst on his ankle.
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