The North Korean authorities have reportedly handed out medals and awards to the parents, teachers and heads of local youth organizations of a student who supposedly lost her life trying to save portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il from floodwaters.
Rodong Shinmun revealed the story on the 26th, saying that on June 11th a 14-year old girl, Han Hyun Kyung, had to escape her home in a gorge in Shinheung County, South Hamkyung Province after it was flooded during heavy rains. Despite the danger, the piece claimed that she managed to rescue portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and pass them to her mother before passing away.
The piece then noted, “A total of seven people have been rewarded upon the orders of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly; the student’s teacher, mother and school principal, father and school vice principle, local Youth League leader and middle school Chosun Children’s Union leader.” It also gave the types and levels of the medals and awards conferred on the recipients.
The story comes after recent celebrations in Pyongyang for the 66th anniversary of the Chosun Children’s Union, events reportedly attended by a record number of students from across North Korea. In reports covering the event, the emphasis was placed heavily on inspiring generational loyalty to the regime, something which the conferring of the latest awards is intended to underscore.
This is not the first time that such a story has been reported. A story about a fallen soldier who died saving a soccer ball given by Kim Jong Il from river rapids is another popular example. However, in that case a posthumous title was given to the deceased soldier only, not to his commanding officers or family.