June 5 (UPI) — North Korea is planning a meeting of its youth league – a sign Kim Jong Un may be turning his attention to cultivating a loyal demographic among North Korean boys between the ages of 7 and 14.
Pyongyang’s state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Monday the North Korea youth league is to hold its “eighth meeting in early June in Pyongyang.”
North Korea’s youth league was founded in 1946 and has about 3 million members, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
Delegates of regional youth leagues have already gathered in Pyongyang for the event.
On Saturday, the group made a visit to the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Statues on Mansu Hill to show reverence for the past leaders, according to KCNA.
The group, also referred to as the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League, is under the control of the central committee of the Korean Workers’ Party.
Kim Il Sung founded the league in January 1946. The group last met in Pyongyang in June 2013.
Kim Jong Un attended the 2013 convention and listened to the debate of the youth delegates, and later took a souvenir photograph with the students after the tournament.
Kim is likely to attend the upcoming convention, according to Yonhap.
Jang Cheol-wun, a North Korea analyst at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, told Yonhap the North Korean leader is interested in cultivating a new generation of loyalists.
“Since Chairman Kim Jong Un is in his early thirties, when North Korea’s youth mature into adulthood, they will become the core generation who will support the Kim Jong Un regime,” Jang said.
Daily NK reported in May North Korea has been stepping up measures to encourage idolization of the leadership among younger North Koreans who depend more on marketplaces than on the state for their livelihoods.
About 1.6 million North Korea now earn their income in unofficial markets.