N. Korean leader sends sweet birthday gift to kids

Updated 08 January 2013
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N. Korean leader sends sweet birthday gift to kids

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has sent one kilo of sweets to every child to mark his birthday today, carrying on a tradition instigated by his grandfather, state media reported. A radio report by the North Korean Central Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul yesterday, said Kim had mobilized aircraft to ensure that each child in the country aged 10 or under received the candy gift in time.
Villagers in outlying islands “exploded with joy” at the confectionery airlift, the report said. The giving of “birthday candy” was started in 1980 by Kim’s grandfather and North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il-Sung. Kim’s father Kim Jong-Il, who died in December 2011, continued the practise when he took over in 1994.
The birthdays of the two late Kims are both celebrated as national holidays. Kim Jong-Un was born on Jan. 8, although there is some confusion about the year, with various reports that it was 1982, 1983 or 1984. “Such gifts to children are aimed to project an image as a benevolent, caring leader as the North seeks to build up a personality cult around the young leader,” said Cho Bong-Hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul.


Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

Updated 22 July 2018
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Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

  • Ozil said he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins
  • He insisted he did not intend to make a political statement

BERLIN: Footballer Mesut Ozil said Sunday he had no regrets about his controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany’s national squad ahead of the World Cup.
Breaking his silence over the snapshot that caused outrage during the tournament, the Arsenal midfielder said in a statement on Twitter that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement.
“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”
Ozil said he had first met Erdogan in 2010 after the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match together.
“Since then, our paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe,” he said.
“I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”
Ozil said despite the timing of the picture with teammate Ilkay Gundogan and Erdogan — shortly before the president won re-election in a poll endowing him with sweeping new powers — “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil said.
“I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would’ve been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”
Ozil, 29, came in for stinging criticism in Germany for their shock first-round defeat at the World Cup.
Team boss Oliver Bierhoff suggested after the debacle that Germany should have considered dropping Ozil after his failure to explain himself over the Erdogan picture.
Bierhoff later backtracked, saying that he “was wrong” to put Ozil under undue pressure, but the picture continued to draw scorn from fans on social media.
Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish origin.