PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- North Korea Tuesday announced plans to release prisoners beginning in February but did not say how many or what class of prisoners would get amnesty.
The amnesty was announced in honor of Kim Jong Il, the leader of the isolated, nuclear-armed communist country who died Dec. 17, and his father and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994, the state news agency KCNA said.
It is not known how many prisoners are being held in the country, but some rights groups have estimated the number of political prisoners alone at more than 100,000.
North Korea "will apply amnesty to convicts from Feb. 1 on the occasion of the centenary of birth of President Kim Il Sung and the 70th birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il, according to a decree of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly …," KCNA said.
"The Cabinet and relevant organs will take working measures for those to be released thanks to the amnesty to work and live under stable conditions."
Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of Kim Jong Il, has been chosen as the new leader, although little is known about him except that he is believed to be in his late 20s.
The official media refers to the young Kim as "supreme leader of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Korean people," to whom the powerful military and party workers have pledged support.