Disillusionment with the Kim Jong Un regime is growing amongst North Korea' so-called market generation, comprised of young adults in their 20s and 30s.
"Young people are commonly referring to Kim Jong Un with the pronoun 'him,' indicating a lack of respect," a source in Ryanggang Province recently told Daily NK.
Previously, residents invariably referred to leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the 'Suryong' and the 'General' in daily conversation. While most residents refer to Kim Jong Un as the 'Marshal' in public, this is primarily to avoid punishment.
While many appear to be loyal followers on the outside, the process of deification of the leader has not widely succeeded. All citizens of North Korea must attend mandatory idolization education, but the market generation, who are now able to compare the regime's claims with external information obtained through the market, have begun referring to the Supreme Leader with disrespectful titles.
In fact, there is no officially mandated title to refer to Kim Jong Un. The North Korean media including the Rodong Sinmun have been confusing residents by using various terms including 'the Supreme Authority,' 'Marshal,' and 'Comrade (dongji),' when referring to Kim Jong Un, while younger residents are habitually using the pronouns 'he' or 'him.'
According to the source, a common claim among North Korean youths is, "He (Kim Jong Un)' will not provide anything for us, so we need to rely on ourselves to make a living." Meanwhile, the regime has ramped up idolization efforts for Kim Jong Un, but in contrast to former leaders, his authority has not been firmly implanted in the minds of the population.