(LEAD) N. Korea announces amnesty for convicted people to mark late leaders' birthdays

최수향 / 2022-01-20 16:18:21
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▲ In this file photo, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Feb. 17, 2021, North Korean citizens offer flowers in front of the statues of late national leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at Mansudae hill in Pyongyang the previous day to mark the birthday of the late leader Kim Jong-il, current leader Kim Jong-un's father. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

(LEAD) N Korea-amnesty

(LEAD) N. Korea announces amnesty for convicted people to mark late leaders' birthdays

(ATTN: ADDS more info, background in last 3 paras; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has decided to grant convicted people amnesty, effective later this month, on the occasion of major birthday celebrations of its late leaders, according to its state media Thursday.

The pardons will be granted to those who were convicted of "crimes against the country and people" to commemorate the 110th birthday of Kim Il-sung and the 80th birthday of Kim Jong-il in a decision made by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

The amnesty will take effect Jan. 30, it said, adding the cabinet and relevant organs will take "practical measures" to help them settle into normal working lives.

The birthday of Kim Jong-il, late father of current leader Kim Jong-un, falls on Feb. 16 and that of his late grandfather Kim Il-sung on April 15, both of which are major celebrations in the hermit country.

The amnesty appears to be part of efforts to promote social unity amid economic hardships, with prolonged border controls in place to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic, and to boost loyalty for the leader who's been in power for a decade.

The North announced its previous amnesty in August 2020 ahead of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party.

On Wednesday, the North held a political bureau meeting of the ruling party and vowed to "most auspiciously and significantly" celebrate the upcoming holidays and turn them into "important political occasions."

The nation's state-controlled media did not provide further details, but a South Korean military official said the North appears to be preparing for a military parade.

Earlier this week, North Korea also resumed freight train operations across the border with China after 1 1/2 years of suspension apparently in order to ship essential materials ahead of the holidays.

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