Kim Jong Eun to Take Control at Conference

13 08 2010

By Hwang Ju Hee, Daily NK (2010-08-11)

As September approaches, the number of analysts and experts forecasting that Kim Jong Eun will take on one or more positions at the core of the Central Committee of the Party at the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference is growing exponentially.

Cheong Seong Chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, has added his voice to the clamor with “The Meaning of the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference” in the August issue of the institute’s monthly magazine, “North Korea.” According to Cheong, “(At the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Delegates’ Conference) Kim Jong Eun will be nominated as an important official in the Party and realize the network required to control the nation, military, and entire society by means of the Party.”

Cheong said, “North Korea calling the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference to hold the ‘election of the highest organs of the Party’ means that they will hold an election for the Central Committee of the Party, which is the ‘leader of the revolution’.”

“The very rapid establishment of the succession system for Kim Jong Eun is deeply related to the unstable health condition of Kim Jong Il,” Cheong added.

“There is a high possibility of Kim Jong Eun’s successor status being formally announced during the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Delegates’ Conference,” the article continues. “First among the positions Kim Jong Eun could assume is ‘Organizing Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party’.”

The Central Committee of the Party is the main practical political decision making and implementation body, and among member secretaries, ‘Organizing Secretary’ has the greatest power. Kim Jong Eun is allegedly already the de facto ‘Organizing Secretary’ covering matters like personnel and accompanying Kim Jong Il for his on-site guidance visits.

Therefore, Cheong said, “At the 3rd Chosun Workers’ delegates’ conference, there is a high possibility of Kim Jong Il, the top secretary, officially nominating Kim Jong Eun as organizing secretary and institutionally formalizing his real influence.”

Additionally, Cheong added, “Kim Jong Eun will be appointed ‘Military Commissioner of the Central Committee of the Party’. He is already being called ‘Captain Kim’ and ‘Youth Captain’ and is the target of military elite loyalty.”

“Kim Jong Eun will also become a member of the Politburo or ‘Member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Party’,” he went on.

In addition, Cheong went on, the National Defense Commission and Party are likely to be more closely linked at the event, while some key associates of Kim Jong Il may see their power grow still further.

“At the 3rd Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference, there is a high possibility of candidate members of the Politburo being promoted to full membership, and of Jang Sung Taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Chosun Workers’ Party, who serves a critical role in the establishment of the succession system, being elected chairman of the Politburo,” he said.

In addition, he anticipated, “Most members of the National Defense Commission who do not have titles in the Politburo will be elected as members or candidate members of the Politburo, which will strengthen the unification of the Party and military.”

He predicted, “In the future, the ‘Kim Jong Il-Kim Jong Eun joint administration’, where Kim Jong Il has greater influence than Kim Jong Eun, will be implemented as the ‘Kim Jong Eun-Kim Jong Il administration’, where Kim Jong Eun has greater influence than Kim Jong Il, except in the fields of diplomacy and South Korea issues.”

Also see N.K. power elite ready for successor [The Korea Herald] 2010-08-11

North Korea Appears to Tap Leader’s Son as Enigmatic Heir

27 04 2010

By MARTIN FACKLER (The New York Times, April 24, 2010)

SUNGNAM, South Korea — The black-and-white photographs that were published last month in a North Korean newspaper appear no different from other propaganda coming from North Korea: they show the supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, touring a steel plant in a fur cap and his trademark sunglasses.

It is the pudgy but stern-faced young man next to him, dressed in a snappy Western suit and dutifully scribbling in a notebook, who has spurred intense speculation. Could this unidentified man be just a plant manager? Or could this be the first public appearance of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader’s third son and heir apparent?

“There, see how his face is in focus and illuminated even more than Kim Jong-il himself?” said Cheong Seong-chang, a specialist on North Korean politics at the Sejong Institute. “There is a high possibility that this is Kim Jong-un.”

Little is known about the inner workings of the secretive North Korean government, not even the identity of the heir apparent. But if Mr. Cheong is right, the enigmatic photographs are the latest signs of the desperate push that the North Korean government is making to build a cult of personality around the son, who is believed to be 27, to prepare him to assume control as the current leader’s health declines.

The elder Mr. Kim, 68, appeared to suffer a stroke two years ago, and there have been recent reports that he is suffering from kidney disease. Analysts say that if Mr. Kim dies too soon, his son could be pushed aside in a scramble for power among political and military elites that would end the family’s dynastic rule and might even bring about the collapse of the impoverished totalitarian state.

While this internal struggle is going on, problems continue to mount. A ham-handed currency revaluation last fall, aimed at reasserting central control over the economy, is reported to have badly backfired, producing unrest and disaffection with the government. At the same time, the spread of cellphones and DVD players has broken the North’s self-imposed isolation, giving many of its citizens a sense for the first time of how poor and backward their country has become.

Recently, the government is said to have given mass promotions and luxury cars to officers in the nation’s powerful military, in a bid to cement their loyalty. Indeed, the sinking last month of a South Korean warship, which many South Koreans now suspect was the work of a North Korean torpedo, is widely seen in the South as a show of strength by the North aimed at winning the military’s support for the younger Mr. Kim.

Despite the breakdown of communications barriers, reliable information on the political system remains scant. Photographs like those that appeared in last month’s Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party’s newspaper, are among the limited evidence that analysts and intelligence experts must rely on as they try to understand the efforts to shore up the Kim dynasty for a third generation.

“This remains Kremlinology,” said Lee Ki-dong, a researcher on North Korea at the Institute for National Strategy, referring to the cold-war-era study of politics in the former Soviet Union. “We have to scrutinize the Rodong Sinmun as if we were looking for nuggets in a gold mine.”

Not much is known about the man who could become the next leader of the unpredictable, nuclear-armed country, even including what he looks like. The only firsthand account comes from a Japanese chef who once worked for the Kim family and knew Kim Jong-un only as a personable and precocious boy. The only known photograph of him was taken when he was 11 years old.

It is also unknown whether Kim Jong-un has any rivals. For a time, North Korea watchers regarded the leader’s eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, 39, as the most likely heir — until he was caught by Japanese authorities using a fake passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He now lives in Macao, giving occasional paid interviews to Japanese television.

Reports out of North Korea indicate that the government is trying to build a cult of personality around Kim Jong-un, just as it did during the last succession, when the current leader replaced his father, the North’s founder, Kim Il-sung. But while Kim Jong-il is believed to have had two decades as heir before assuming power after his father’s death in 1994, his son is being rolled out much faster.

Moreover, some experts say, the average North Korean is growing worldly and aware of life outside the country’s borders, making it increasingly unlikely that the government’s often bizarre propaganda efforts will succeed.

On Monday, the Daily NK, a Web site that specializes in information on North Korea, said it had obtained an internal propaganda document that called Kim Jong-un the Youth Captain and quoted his father (who has his own title, Dear Leader) praising his loyalty and good works. The documents also extolled the son for such achievements as managing a fireworks display last year in Pyongyang, the capital, and becoming a proficient driver of military vehicles, the Daily NK reported.

“He is a genius of geniuses,” the document says. “He has been endowed by nature with special abilities. There is nobody on the planet who can defeat him in terms of faith, will and courage.”

Mr. Cheong, the analyst, said that members of local North Korean work units and government employees had been taught a new song titled “Footsteps,” which lauds Kim Jong-un’s fitness to follow his father as leader.

Kim Jong-il has been rushing to prepare the ground for his son in other ways, analysts say. They said that wiretaps of North Korean phones by the South’s intelligence agency revealed that the younger Mr. Kim was appointed to a top post in the ruling party’s internal security apparatus last year and that he now worked in the same building as his father.

The analysts have offered many predictions about what may happen when the current leader does die. One is that his brother-in-law, Jang Song-taek, 64, widely seen as the second most powerful member of the inner circle, could serve as a regent until the younger Mr. Kim is ready to rule — or simply hold onto power for himself.

“The signs are that the elite do not take Kim Jong-un seriously,” said Kim Yeon-su, a professor of North Korean studies at the National Defense University in Seoul. “This is the final stage of the Kim family dictatorship.”

“The photo is not of Kim Jong-un,” a Unification Ministry official said, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity. Another government official, who also asked not to be named, said the photo showed Kim Kwang-nam, chief engineer at the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex in a northern province.

See more photos of suspected Kim Jong-un in

Propaganda Song for Heir Apparent Played in North Korea

1 11 2009

The song of KJU_2009.4.25SEOUL (Yonhap, 2009/10/29)

Although many North Koreans know about the pending father-to-son power transfer in their country’s ruling family, talking about the dynastic power succession in public is forbidden in the socialist country. Nevertheless, signs of the power transfer from the current leader, Kim Jong-il, to his youngest son, Jong-un, are evident in the reclusive state these days.

North Korea appears to have established a propaganda song praising the heir apparent as a regular theme during public events, with the latest performance aired on state television. Analysts say the move proves Kim Jong-il’s faith in his third son as the next leader of the state.

According to intelligence sources, the North’s state-run Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station reported on Oct. 9 that Kim Jong-il attended a show at North Hwanghae Provincial Art Theater, south of Pyongyang, and a choir performed the song called “Footsteps” as part of commemoration of the newly built art center. It was the fifth time for the leader to attend an official event where the song was played, according to intelligence officials.

In the Oct. 9 television broadcast, belatedly discovered in South Korea, still photos from the concert show the title of the song displayed in green on an electronic board above the stage, while dozens of men and women sing in ensemble.

“Footsteps,” reportedly written by top composer Ri Jong-o, has been widely interpreted by North Korea watchers here as extolling the valiance of Jong-un. Its title began to appear in North Korean media in February, when the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that soldiers in an army unit sang the song during Kim Jong-il’s inspection visit there. The song surfaced again during an April 26 ceremony marking the founding of the North’s Korean People’s Army.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry would not say whether it was a sign that a power transfer is underway. “We have intelligence indicating the song is for Kim Jong-un, but it’s a matter of interpretation if this means a succession process being consolidated,” ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said.

The ministry also confirmed Oct. 26 that a caption flashed the word “Footsteps” as it was being performed. The song’s lyrics begin: “Tramp tramp tramp / the footsteps of our General Kim / spreading the spirit of February / tramp tramp tramping onwards.” General Kim is believed to be a reference to Kim Jong-un, and February the month of the elder Kim’s birth.

The television presented footage of Kim and his entourage clapping their hands, but it was not clear from the visual material whether they did so to the heir’s song. Kim Jong-il’s entourage during the theater visit included his sister, Kim Kyong-hui, and her husband, Jang Song-thaek, both of whom are believed to be deeply involved in grooming the heir apparent in Workers’ Party directorial posts. Other top party officials, such as Kim Ki-nam and Pak Nam-gi, were among the audience, along with residents of the province.

North Korea watchers likened the move to former leader Kim Il-sung’s praise of his son, Kim Jong-il, in public before his succession. Kim Jong-il, now 67, reportedly suffered a stroke in August last year….

… Cheong Seong-chang, an expert with the non-governmental Sejong Institute south of Seoul, said the North is now directing the succession process in a more subtle way, in contrast to its earlier nuclear and missile tests that were believed to have been aimed at supporting the power transition.

“In the early process of building the succession system, North Korea needed tension with the outside world to tighten internal unity and pursued a military-oriented ultra hard-line foreign policy that completely ignored the positions of other countries,” Cheong said. “The Kim Jong-un succession system has now entered a stable orbit.”

See the full text of this article here…

Mystery of Kim’s Successor Deepens

14 09 2009

KJI_seafood factoryby Sunny Lee, The National, September 13, 2009

BEIJING // A terse announcement by North Korea’s No 2 last week that there had been no internal discussion on who would succeed the country’s ruler, Kim Jong Il, was probably a smoke screen to divert outside attention from the process of choosing an heir.

The attention is unwanted because it could show North Korea is in a period of some volatility. When asked about succession, Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, told Japan’s Kyodo News Agency on Thursday: “We haven’t even had discussion on such an issue in our country. Our republic’s people are strongly united around Chairman Kim.”

The latest statement, from the country’s second most powerful man, drew attention for the contradictory fact that party officials had been rallying around the heir apparent, Kim Jong Un, the leader’s youngest son.

The Daily NK internet newspaper website, run by North Korean defectors in Seoul, reported that sources from North Korea said last week that the succession process for Kim Jong Un has been suspended. Since then, pundits have been divided over what the apparent stall in the succession process might mean.

The issue even prompted South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Friday to speculate that it may be an indication that the situation in North Korea is “fluid”, hinting at a possible internal, factional row.

Some speculated that Mr Kim fell out of favour with the senior cadres of the Worker’s Party or the National Defence Commission, perhaps because the elders who make up the highest decision-making body in North Korea see Mr Kim as too young and inexperienced.

But Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, a Seoul-based think tank, sees Kim Yong Nam’s pronouncement as a diversionary tactic targeting a foreign audience. “It’s a smoke screen,” Mr Cheong said.

“Last year when Kim Jong Il was suffering from a stroke, the same Kyodo asked Kim Yong Nam about Kim Jong Il’s health. At that time, Kim Yong Nam said there was no problem with Kim Jong Il’s health. He even said such an allegation is a defamatory strategy from outside forces to undermine the nation. But we now all know that Kim Jong Il indeed had a health problem. So, it’s déjà vu,” Mr Cheong said.

Liu Ming, the director of International Relations Theory Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said: “My understanding is that after Kim Jong Il had a stroke last summer, North Korea prepared for a sudden change of leadership, including the “Dear Leader’s” death. But he now seems to have recovered well and [is in] very good health. So, there is no urgency. Therefore, they dropped the contingency arrangement for succession.”

Observers say it is possible North Korea is playing a two-track strategy: internally, it is speeding up the succession by continually unfolding the process; outwardly, it is diverting international attention from the drawn-out transfer of power.

Evidence for this comes from recent visitors to North Korea. “People who are authorised to deal with foreigners openly talk about Jong Un as the next leader,” said Leonid Petrov, a Russian specialist on North Korea, who is based at Australian National University.

“Kim Yong Nam is likely misrepresenting the situation for a foreign audience. It’s the usual tactic of a totalitarian regime to deny the obvious,” Mr Petrov said. The primary reason for North Korea to maintain a low profile for the succession, observers say, is to avoid outside criticism about the rare three-generation succession to the leadership of a modern state…

See the full text of the article here…

Also see Andrei Lankov’s recent opinion “North Kore’s Succession gets Twisted”