North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is cracking down on the fashion for giving babies “soft-sounding” names and issued an order for them to be changed to more “patriotic” such as Chong Il (gun), Chung Sim (loyalty), Pok Il (bomb) and Ui Song (satellite).
Names with “soft” endings such as A Ri (loved one) So Ra (conch shell) and Su Mi (super beauty), are popular in South Korea but Kim has demanded an end to the trend in the Hermit Kingdom.
South Korean-style names are a sign that Seoul is just “a copy of the decadent Western Yankee culture,” according to Kim.
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Citizens who haven’t changed their names to something more “revolutionary” by the end of this year could face fines, or worse.
An anonymous North Korean citizen from the north-eastern province of North Hamgyong told Radio Free Asia: “Residents are complaining that the authorities are forcing people to change their names according to the standards required by the state.
“Starting last month, notices have been constantly issued at the neighbourhood-watch unit’s residents' meeting to correct all names without final consonants.
“People with names that don’t have a final consonant have until the end of the year to add political meanings to their name to meet revolutionary standards.
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Some North Koreans aren’t happy about the order. A few have even dared to ask if they can give their kids names that “reflect the current era of starvation and oppression”.
Others say trying to dictate what kind of names parents give their kids is a sign “tyranny” has finally gone too far: “How can humans not be allowed to name themselves?” complained one irate North Korean citizen.
“Are we actually mechanical parts or livestock?”
North Koreans are quietly joking among themselves that they will give their kids names such as Yong Chol, Man Bok or Sun Hui, which to North Korean ears would sound as old-fashioned as Edna, Agnes or Egbert.
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