N. Korea doles out medals, commendations

February 27, 2012 12:05 pm 

SEOUL, Feb. 27 — North Korea has doled out medals and state commendations to its people in recent weeks in what could be an attempt to win their loyalty following a transition of power.

The North held a ceremony of awarding state commendation to more than 300 officials and workers in the field of public service at the People's Palace of Culture on Sunday, according to the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

Award recipients include barbers, a tailor and a teacher in training. The North also conferred Order of National Flag and Order of Labor on 305 people, the KCNA said in a dispatch on Sunday.

"They were awarded commendation in recognition of their contributions to promoting the convenience of people's life through years of faithful public services in the spirit of devoted service to the people," the dispatch said.

Last week, the North also awarded "the title of DPRK Hero" to Pak Thae-son, former miner who the KCNA has said "devoted his life to saving his colleague when there was an accident in a pit." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He was also honored with a gold star medal and Order of National Flag First Class, the KCNA said.

North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un praised the dead miner and instructed mine workers "not to forget his heroic act." Kim made the comment in a handwritten note to the Komdok Mining Complex, North Korea's largest lead and zink production base, according to the North's state media.

The North also conferred "the title of DPRK Labor Hero" to painter Ri Song-il who "successfully created the portrait of smiling leader Kim Jong-il as a national treasure," the KCNA said in a separate dispatch.

Ri also received Gold Medal and Order of National Flag First Class, the KCNA said earlier this month.

The North's recent move came as the North's new leader is believed to be consolidating his power after following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

The move "appears to be aimed at winning public allegiance and displaying to the outside world that Kim Jong-un's regime is stable," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.(PNA/Yonhap) DCT/jnc

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