N. Korean leader sends sweet birthday gift to kids

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent one kilogramme of sweets to every child to mark his birthday on Tuesday, carrying on a tradition started by his grandfather, state media reported.

A radio report by the North Korean Central Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul on Monday, said Mr Kim had mobilised aircraft to ensure that each child in the country aged 10 and under received the candy gift in time.

Villagers in outlying islands "exploded with joy" at the confectionery airlift, the report said.

The giving of "birthday candy" was started in 1980 by Mr Kim's grandfather and North Korea's founding leader Kim Il Sung.

Mr Kim's father Kim Jong Il, who died in December 2011, continued the practice when he took over in 1994.

The birthdays of the two late leaders are both celebrated as national holidays.

The current North Korean leader was born on Jan 8, although there is some confusion about the year, with various reports saying it was 1982, 1983 or 1984.

"Such gifts to children are aimed to project an image as a benevolent, caring leader as the North seeks to build up a personality cult around the young leader," said analyst Cho Bong Hyun from the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul.

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