Ce que voulait Kim Jong-il

22 06 2012

Leonid Petrov (Asie21_n°52,_juin_2012, p.16-17)

FAITS

Le testament et les dernières volontés du leader nord-coréen Kim Jong-il, décédé le 17 décembre dernier, font l’objet de nombreux commentaires qui pourraient avoir des conséquences sur les relations intercoréennes. Deux think-tanks sud-coréens : l’Institut Sejong et le Centre d’information stratégique sur la Corée du Nord (NK Strategic Information Service Center) ont récemment révélé certaines parties du testament bien que ce dernier n’ait pas encore été formellement authentifié.

ENJEUX

Le testament présumé aurait été obtenu par l’intermédiaire d’une personne très proche d’un officiel nord-coréen de haut rang. Son contenu se résume selon les points suivants :

–              la Corée du Nord pourra faire la paix avec le Sud qu’une fois l’actuel président sud-coréen Lee Myungbak aura quitté le pouvoir. Quand le nouveau président sud-coréen prendra ses fonctions la Corée du Nord devra éviter la guerre et avancer main dans la main avec le Sud. Le but ultime est la réunification pacifique ;

–              les deux Corées devraient songer à rouvrir leurs réseaux ferroviaires, leurs routes et leurs voies maritimes ;

–              si les deux Corées entraient de nouveau en guerre, alors elles laisseraient l’ensemble de la péninsule totalement dévastée et loin derrière les autres pays. Cependant Kim Jong-il conseille à son successeur d’être militairement en position de force avant de reprendre le dialogue avec le Sud. Il rappelle aux futurs leaders nord-coréens qu’ils « doivent avoir en permanence en tête que le développement de l’arme nucléaire, des missiles à long portée et des armes chimiques sont les meilleurs moyens de maintenir la paix dans la péninsule coréenne et qu’ils ne doivent jamais baisser la garde » ;

– relations avec les États-Unis : la Corée du Nord « doit gagner la guerre psychologique en s’affirmant comme une puissance nucléaire légitime. Elle doit diminuer l’influence américaine dans la péninsule et faire en sorte que les sanctions internationales soient levées afin de créer les conditions du développement économique ». Elle doit revenir aux conversations à six mais seulement pour obtenir la reconnaissance officielle de son statut de puissance nucléaire.

– Il convient de noter que malgré tout le respect qu’il doit à la Chine, Kim Jong-il demande à ses concitoyens de rester vigilant en écrivant qu’ « historiquement la Chine a créé des difficultés pour notre pays. Il s’agit du pays qui a les relations les plus proches avec nous mais qu’il faudra toujours garder à l’œil. Gardez cela à l’esprit et faites attention. Évitez d’être exploités par la Chine ». Cette affirmation illustre en partie les relations difficiles qu’il entretenait avec la Chine, son principal et plus ancien allié.

– En dehors des questions internationales et de sécurité, Kim Jong-il a abordé trois autres sujets : la succession héréditaire, l’adhésion à la politique de priorité à l’armée et le rôle de l’énergie nucléaire dans le développement économique.

Comme prévu, son plus jeune fils Kim Jong-un a pris sa succession. Cependant c’est sa sœur cadette, Kim Kyong-hee, qui a été désignée comme exécutrice du testament. Elle est la secrétaire du Comité central du parti des travailleurs de Corée où elle supervise le secteur de l’industrie légère. De son côté Kim Jongun devrait être nommé Chef du comité national de défense au cours de l’année faisant suite à la lecture du testament. Aussi, s’il s’agit du vrai testament, nous devrions voir Kim Jung-un occuper le plus haut poste au sein de la République démocratique populaire de Corée au plus tard en décembre 2012. Dans l’intervalle, le jeune Kim a déjà été promu au grade de général quatre étoiles, commandant suprême de l’armée du peuple, Premier secrétaire du parti des travailleurs et Premier président de la Commission nationale de défense.

Le testament indique aussi que les enfants de Kim Jong-il issus de précédents mariages devront être protégés. Il demande une attention particulière pour son fils aîné Kim Jung-nam qui a eu  ’autorisation de mener une vie confortable à l’étranger. Kim Seol-song sa fille issue de son premier mariage devra également jouir d’un statut à part. Ces initiatives ont pour but de permettre à la famille de rester unie et de renforcer la dynastie Kim en limitant les conflits internes. En conséquence Kim Jong-nam pourra continuer de vivre en Chine et n’aura pas besoin de demander l’asile à la Corée du Sud ou aux États-Unis. De son côté, Kim Seol-song ne se positionnera pas comme une rivale de ses demi-frères Kim Jong-un et Kim Kong-cheol. Par ailleurs, les fonds placés dans le coffre n°216 de Samcheonri doivent être transférés à Kim Jong-un tandis que le reste doit être placé sous l’autorité de Kim Kyong-hee. Elle et son mari Jang Seong-taek ont été nommés conseillers politiques en chef de Kim Jong-un. Comme exécutrice testamentaire, Kim Kyong-hee bénéficie d’une influence remarquable sur Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-il souhaitait promouvoir d’autres conseillers militaires et économiques auprès de son successeur mais ces derniers n’ayant pas l’autorité suffisante pour prendre des décisions importantes continueront de jouer les seconds rôles.

COMMENTAIRES PROSPECTIFS

La plupart des observateurs de la Corée du Nord s’interrogent toujours sur la véracité du document. Aucun consensus n’a été dégagé mais le « testament de Kim Jong-il » aide à comprendre la situation actuelle en Corée du Nord et nous dit beaucoup sur la direction que le pays devrait prendre (propriété asie21). Il permet de mieux appréhender des actions difficilement explicables prises par les Nord-Coréens après la mort de Kim Jong-il. Ainsi la virulente campagne anti Lee Myung-bak s’inscrit dans l’idée qu’aucun dialogue ne sera possible avec la Corée du Sud tant que le Président sud-coréen n’aura pas quitté ses fonctions. De même, le récent lancement d’un missile balistique, aussi illogique qu’il puisse paraître, apparaît comme un calcul où le régime préfère sacrifier l’aide alimentaire et ses relations extérieurs au rehaussement de son prestige auprès de la population à la veille du centième anniversaire de la naissance de Kim Il-sung.

Plus important, le « testament de Kim Jong-il » qu’il soit vrai ou faux met l’accent sur l’importance des relations intercoréennes et encourage aussi bien les Coréens du Nord que du Sud à reprendre le dialogue et la coopération. Malgré une rhétorique belliqueuse que les responsables instrumentalisent pour des gains politiques immédiats, l’objectif à terme reste la paix et la sécurité.

Cela ne pourra se faire que si Seoul et Pyongyang font un pas vers la réconciliation et qu’elles reconstruisent la confiance et le respect mutuel.

www.asie21.com





은둔국가의 절대적인 지도자 김정은

3 01 2012

(김혜선 기자, 호주국민헤럴드 12月22日2011年)  ‘은둔국가의 절대적인 지도자’, ‘핵무기 개발로 일본과 한국 등 전세계를 위협하는 독재정치로 경재를 더욱 궁핍하게 만든 인물’, ‘기근과 경제적 어려움에도 야만적인 정권을 유지해온, 정치적으로 노련하고 무자비한 지도자’등은 세계언론들이 북한 김정일에 대한 다양한 평가들이다. 갑작스런 김정일의 사망을 둘러싸고 많은 의혹들과 미래의 남북한 문제들에 관한 여러 예견들이 난무한 가운데 본지는 12월 20일 시드니대학교 한국학과 교수이며 한국전문가인 레오니드 페트로브교수와 전화인터뷰를 하였다. 그는 캔버라 출장 중에 있었다.

1.    김정일의 사망에 관해 많은 의혹들이 있는데(특히 2달 전에 이미 김정일이 사망을 했고 그 후 쿠테타가 일어났었다는 설까지도) 그런 의혹들에 대한 생각과 김정일의 부재는 북한의 미래에 어떤 영향을 미치게 될까?

김일성은 1986년 소련의 정치적 붕괴이전 심한 스트레스로 인한 심장마비가 왔었는데 그 당시에 김일성의 사망 루머가 있었다. 1994년 7월 8일 삼지연 별장에서 다시 심장마비가 왔었고 기상악화로 헬기가 뜨지 못해 큰 병원으로의 이송에 실패하면서 죽음을 맞게 되었다. 김일성은 1994년 9월 김영삼 전 대통령과 한국에서의 첫 회담을 결정 한 후 보수세력들의 강한 반대로 많은 스트레스를 받았다고 한다. 김정일 역시 그때와 비슷한 상황이 발생한 것 같다. 김정일은 2012년을 북한이 ‘강성대국’이 되는 해로 정해놨었다. 그래서 북한의 주민들은 2012년이 오기만을 기다리고 있었고 김정일은 내부적으로 경제적문제나 외교적인 문제로 많은 스트레스를 받았을 것으로 본다. 이미 한번 쓰러진 병력이 있는 김정일은 열차를 타고 가다 심장에 문제가 발생했고 충분한 의료장비가 없었기 때문에 심근경색이라는 사안으로 죽음을 맞게 된 것이라 생각된다. 북한에서의 쿠테타란 있을 수 없다. 북한의 정권체제를 잘 모르는 사람들이 쿠테타란 말을 쓰는 것 같다. 김정일은 자신의 부재를 완전히 준비했다. 김정은을 자신의 후계자로 지목하고 철저하게 정권이양을 했다. 김정은 정권체제의 향후 2-3년 동안의 행보가 북한의 미래에 큰 영향을 끼칠 것으로 본다.

2.    김정일의 사망 이후 북한과 중국과의 관계에 변화가 있을거라 생각하는가?

중국과 북한의 관계는 미국과 한국과의 관계에 비례한다. 이명박 대통령의 친미정책은 북한과 중국과의 관계를 더 결속하게 만들었다. 중국이 강조하는 3No가 있다. 한반도전쟁 No, 북한이 무너지는 것 No, 미군기지가 중국국경에 근접해있는 것 No. 중국도 남북한의 문제로 머리가 복잡하다. 중국과 북한의 관계에 김정일의 부재는 그리 큰 영향을 끼칠 것으로 보지는 않는다.

3.    6자 회담을 앞둔 김정일의 죽음이 남북한의 관계와 한반도 통일의 문제, 그리고 국제정세에는 어떤 영향을 미치게 될 것인가?

북한의 핵문제를 해결하기 위해서는 한국전쟁이 끝나야 한다. 남북한은 1945년 일본으로부터 해방은 되었지만 통일국가를 수립하는데 실패하고 1948년 남북한에 각각 정권이 들어서면서 분단을 맞게 되었다. 1950년 발발했던 한국전쟁은 미국등 16개국의 연합군, 그리고 중국과 소련이 개입이 되면서3차 세계전쟁으로 확산될 위험까지도 있었다. 한국전쟁은 1953년 7월 27일 당사자인 한국은 제외된 채 유엔측 대표와 북한 대표간의 18통의 휴전 협정문서에 서명을 함으로 휴전협정이 이루어지고 휴전만 한 상태로 오늘날까지 이르게 되었다. 현재 미국은 북한에 강경한 태도로 일관하고 있으며 북한의 주위의 국가들에게까지 경계의 눈초리를 보내고 있는 시점에서 친북을 하던 주변국가들은 미국의 눈치보기에 급급하여 북한은 무역이나 교육 등 외국과의 교류는 현재 전혀 생각 조차도 못하고 있는 실정이다. 미국이 외교적으로 북한을 인정하지 않고 북한이 고립된 상태로 있는 한 북한의 핵 문제는 해결점을 생각하기는 어려울 것이다. 북한의 핵 문제는 북한이 외교적 문제에서, 특히 미국과의 문제가 해결이 되었을 때(미국이 전쟁을 먼저 시작하지 않을 것이란 확신이 섰을 때) 자연스럽게 해결될 문제이다. 강경했던 김정일의 부재는 미국과 북한과의 대화를 자연스럽게 이끌어낼 가능성을 생각해볼 수 있다. 북한이 미국과의 전쟁의 위협에서 안정이 되고 좀더 경제적으로 자립할 위치에 있게 되고 남한과의 교류가 자연스럽게 이루어질때 그때가 남북한 통일의 문제에 관해서 이야기할 수 있는 시점이 되지 않을까 싶다. 미국이나 일본, 중국과 러시아가 개입된 6자 회담보다 제일 당사자인 북한과 한국과의 교류나 대화가 더 중요하다. 미국이나 일본, 중국 그 어느 나라도 남북한의 통일을 원하는 나라는 없다.

페트로브교수는 북한이 더 이상 고립되지 않도록 자연스럽게 국제사회로 이끌어 내는 일이 중요하다고 강조하였다. 교수는 6자회담에 별 희망을 거는것 같지 않았다. 그와의 인터뷰를 하는 동안 한반도 분단구조를 유지하려는 주변의 국가들과 한반도의 문제를 공유해야며 북한에 문제가 있을 때마다 미국의 시나리오안에서 움직일 수 밖에 없는 남한의 현실을 너무 당연하게 받아들이고 있는 우리들이 안타깝게만 느껴졌다. 북한이 앞으로 어떠한 위치에 처하든, 경제적 그리고 외교적인 어떠한 문제들도 결국은 우리가 안고가야할, 우리들만의 문제이고 과제임을 잊어서는 않될 것이다.





Kim Jong-il’s ‘Mt. Ryongnam Range’ is succeeded by Kim Jong-un’s ‘Mt. Ami Range’

16 02 2011

(by Lee Yun-keol,Transl. by Ruth Kim, NKSIS Week 4)

With the official emergence of North Korean 3rd generation power succession system at the end of last year, the attention has been put on who will come into Pyongyang key power. On Jan. 23, according to a well-informed source, the center force of Kim Jong-un now goes by the name of ‘Mt. Ami range’.

Mt. Ami, a not-so-high mountain at 156m above the sea, is located among Seosung Area, Yongsung Area, and Daesung Area in Pyongyang. Both Party’s Central Committee, the North Korean core body, and Kim Jong-il’s No. 21 residence are located in Changgwang-dong of Central Area near those Areas. The source explained “The Areas in which Kim Jong-il’s residence and key bodies are located are so important that they are all connected to underground channels directly”, adding “Their security level is always the highest and public access to them is also strongly limited.”

Around Mt. Ami, furthermore, with Kim Jong-un’s No. 55 residence as the center, there are Presidential Security Command 1, 2 in the South, National Security Agency in the Southwest, People’s Safety Agency in the Northwest, and Defense Security Ministry in the East.

In this way, such North Korean key security bodies which will control the public with an iron fist in order to stabilize the 3rd generation succession of power are concentrated near Mt. Ami. “The executives of the bodies in their 40s~50s under the rule of Kim Jong-un are called as ‘Mt. Ami range’ said the source.

Kim Jong-un also reportedly turned out to take over Kim Jong-il’s army, mostly a young group. For this reason, some of the junior members publicly said “Mt. Ryongnam is already worn off and the tide has turned in our Mt. Ami favor.” mentioned the source.

There was a similar situation in the past. It is common knowledge in North Korea that Kim Il-sung accomplished a one-man rule after the 8.15 liberation, based on some 100 persons of the 6th division, 2nd Army of North East Anti Japanese United Army, so-called ‘Mt. Baekdu range’.

Besides, Kim Jong-il had political base called ‘Mt. Ryongnam range’. It refers to a few people he met at Kim Il-sung University during 1960~1963. More specifically, the then secretaries of party cells(the primary party organization) of each department and major of the campus, and chairmans or members of Chosun Democratic Youth Alliance (CDYA) were included, with who Kim Jong-il had a relationship as the chairman of Kim Il-sung Univ. CDYA.

These people very close to Kim Jong-il, so important members of the North’s power enough to be received kindly treated by Personnel Department of Central Committee of the party, were involved in wide range of activities. However, the Mt. Ryongnam range is recently doomed to going downhill as Kim Jong-un has become the new center force of the North Korea, said the source.

Meanwhile, the graduates of ‘Red Flag Mangyondae Revolutionary School’, where the families of revolutionary patriots usually go, were also classified as Kim Jong-il’s mainstream members. However, only a few of them moved up the position of core figures in Army and most of them were eradicated as Kim Jong-il seized the supreme power by reason that they didn’t directly belong to Kim Il-sung’s troop but to other anti-Japanese united armies.

It needs to follow closely what role this ‘Mt. Ami range’ of Kim Jong-un era will play in the future.





For the Kims, the Weakest Link is Family

26 10 2010

In his recent op-ed entitled ‘For the Kims, the Weakest Link is Family’, published in Asia Times On-line (22 Oct. 2010) sociologist Aidan Foster-Carter discusses the dynastic succession in North Korea. He writes: “I dare to hope for a happy ending. Kim Il-sung’s sociological nous has kept the state he created alive longer than many (me included) had expected. But can it go on for ever?

That I doubt. A full answer would loose more hares than there’s room for here. In the 21st century, refusing market reforms is a recipe for self-destruction. Abroad, North Korea’s old game of militant mendicancy, despite some success from the Sino-Soviet dispute right up to the six-party talks, is past its sell-by date; other powers are fed up and won’t play any more.

But just to stick to the processes already mentioned, these too are far from foolproof. The weakest link is familism. Past history, in Korea or anywhere – think of the Borgias in Italy – suggests that monarchies or other forms of family rule can be riddled by strife. Some crown princes just aren’t up to the job. People plot, and before you know it the knives are out.

Specifically, promoting a third son over his elder siblings is asking for trouble. What does number one son think? On October 12 he told us. Interviewed in Beijing by Japan’s Asahi TV, Kim Jong-nam broke ranks, saying: ”Personally, I am against third-generation dynastic succession”. Adding that he didn’t care, and would help little brother ”while I stay abroad”, doesn’t make this any less of a bombshell. Kim Jong-nam has gone off-message, big time.”

The “Late Night Live” program of ABC Radio National invited Leonid Petrov to discuss this topic with Dr Foster-Carter.

Listen to the MP3 file of the discussion

The allocated 15 minutes did not permit the participants to use all the arguments they had prepared. The  following the is the summary of Leonid Petrov’s response:

“I’m supportive of Aidan’s analysis in general, but would like to defend my own hypothesis that Kim Jong-un is the  best candidate for continuing this ‘communist monarchy’ without  inflicting any change in politics or the economy of North Korea.

My argument is based on two assumptions. First, as long as the Cold War structures continue to dominate regional politics in Northeast Asia, North Korea will be safe by playing China, Russia and the US against each other. The former Cold War enemies badly need North Korea either as a buffer state or as a regional balancer. So, nobody (including politicians in Seoul and Pyongyang) would welcome the sudden and uncontrolled unification of Korea.

Second, the dynastic regime in North Korea with its power and legitimacy built on endless lies about the situation abroad and especially in South Korea simply cannot sustain any openness or even minor liberalisation. Instead, endless mobilisation campaigns and anti-imperialist propaganda are the well tested tools for the regime to keep the citizens under total control. There is no room for economic liberalisation or political reform in the ideology of self-reliance (Juch’e) and priority of security (Seon’gun) politics.

Since the last thing which the Kim family (who treats the DPRK like its own hereditary property) wishes to encounter is any kind of change or reform, they do everything possible to restrict access to the power for outsiders. Anticipating the imminent end of Kim Jong-il’s era, the clan has nominated the youngest person in the family because they wish the new Great Leader: 1) to be totally dependent on the older members of  the family, who would continue running the country business; 2) to have very little or no support base outside of the family, even among such groups as Army or the Party; and 3) to remain alive and maintain the system intact as long as possible, perhaps for another 30 or 40 years.

Kim Jong-un, by all means, is the candidate who best meets these criteria. Surprisingly, even the groups who could potentially rival and oppose his appointment, demonstrate solidarity and support. Why? See the above two assumptions on which the very system of Korea’s division is based: the continuation of the Cold War in the region and the reluctance of elite groups to lose their privileged status.

Aidan Foster-Carter asks how long can this system survive. As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and then later witnessed the collapse of the Iron Curtain, I would say that totalitarian societies of this type are extremely resilient and will not falter until liberalisation is imposed from above (as was done first by Khruschev  and then again by Gorbachev). Thus, the Kim clan is on the right track by avoiding reforms (of the Soviet or Chinese form) and by grooming a young and inexperienced leader from inside the family.

Unless the external situation changed dramatically (i.e. if China stopped fearing the US, or Russia and Japan sign a peace treaty, or conservatives in Seoul lose the next election), we shouldn’t hold our breath. There is no reason to expect any change! Kim Jong-un is not yet ready for the job but, looking at the rigidity of fossilised Cold War structures and the return of Palaeo-conservatism in regional politics in South Korea and Japan, he has plenty of time to develop his leadership skills and charisma. In this way, Kim Jong-un can easily outshine his father, and become as successful as his grandfather in playing one great power off against another.”





Kim Jong-il snubs Jimmy Carter in lead up to succession

2 09 2010

by Aidan Foster Carter, East Asia Forum, 2 September 2010.

Kim Jong-il headed to China at the end of last month less than four months after his last visit. This timing was the more surprising since it meant he missed Jimmy Carter. The former US president arrived in Pyongyang to secure the release of a US prisoner, Aijalon Mahli Gomes. […] Last August it was Bill Clinton who did the honours, in a trip clearly para-diplomatic in intent and outcome: he met Kim Jong-il, and it looked briefly as if US-DPRK relations might thaw. Carter had no such luck. Indeed, Kim Jong-il’s snub – couldn’t he have waited for a day? – sends its own message.

From Washington, the Nelson Report offered different versions in successive issues. John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was keen to go get Gomes, who is also his constituent; but the State Department vetoed this lest it look too official and governmental. Alternatively, it was Kim Jong-il who on July 30 nixed both Kerry and Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico – who has been on mercy missions to Pyongyang before. Kim wanted Jim. But in that case, why did he stand him up? Possibly because the Obama administration, concerned at Carter’s well-known penchant for freelance diplomacy, kept its distance from this trip – in contrast to the close liaison last year over Bill Clinton’s visit, though that too was nominally private.

But America is hardly the main thing on the dear leader’s mind just now. His sudden return to China is almost certainly related to the imminent, and rare, delegates’ meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Announced on June 26 as due in early September, sources in Seoul suggest it will be held on September 6-8. Anticipation is strong that Kim’s third son and putative heir Kim Jong-eun will at last be revealed in public and perhaps take on some official post. His full designation as successor is not expected until 2012: Juche 100 in the DPRK calendar as the centenary of its founder Kim Il-sung’s birth.

What has this to do with China? One possible precedent occurred a decade ago. In May 2000 Kim Jong-il made a secret visit to Beijing, just a fortnight before he hosted Kim Dae-jung in Pyongyang for the first ever inter-Korean summit. While so fiercely independent a regime would bridle at any suggestion of needing to seek anyone’s permission for anything, nonetheless it was prudent to ensure that so radical a foreign policy initiative was acceptable to the DPRK’s main protector and aid donor.

The same applies now, only more so. A delicate succession process, a clapped-out economy and a slow-burn nuclear crisis add up to a major headache for all concerned. In better times Kim can ignore China. But this is a tense juncture. The dear leader needs Hu Jintao, whom he probably met on this trip in Changchun, to bless Kim Jong-eun’s succession – and not dally with potential rivals like number one son Kim Jong-nam, living in quasi-exile in Macau, whose unprepossessing appearance belies an openness to much-needed reform. Kim may also be desperate for more Chinese aid, reportedly withheld on his last visit, so that Kim Jong-eun’s anointment can be marked in best Roman emperor style with panem et circenses: bread and circuses.

The question is what Hu will have demanded in return. Above all Beijing fears instability in its wayward neighbour. Its purported scepticism over March’s sinking of the ROK corvette Cheonan reaffirmed a refusal to paint the DPRK into a corner. Yet China is fed up with Kim Jong-il, and will hardly miss a chance to bring him into line at a moment of weakness. This time the price of yet more political and financial aid may have been twofold: real economic reform, and showing more willing as regards the long-stalled nuclear issue.

A sign of hope regarding economic reform, Pak Pong-ju is back after three years in the wilderness. As chemicals minister in 2002 Pak led an economic delegation to South Korea. In 2003 Pak was promoted to prime minister; on his watch the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) got up and running. In 2007 he was sacked in a backlash against reform. He resurfaced in August as a WPK deputy director, said to be in light industry: long the bailiwick of Kim Kyong-hui, the dear leader’s sister and Mrs Jang.

As for the nuclear issue, China’s negotiator Wu Dawei has been shuttling from Pyongyang to Seoul peddling a new three-stage plan to kick-start the stalled, if not dead, Six Party Talks (6PT). Wu got no joy in Seoul, whose foreign minister was away. Neither the ROK nor US will budge unless Pyongyang has something serious and substantial to say, both on the nuclear issue and the Cheonan. Such a hardline stance risks keeping them both out of the loop, at a time of ferment in Pyongyang. Yet Obama in particular has little choice at this juncture. Already assailed as he is by outrageous slings and arrows in an ever more toxic domestic political milieu, in the run-up to mid-term Congressional elections the last thing he can afford is the extra charge of being soft on Kim Jong-il.

Kim Jong-il’s Chinese jaunt –nominally secret, though the special train and convoys are hard to hide –took an unusual route from Manpo to Jian around 1 a.m. on August 26, reaching Jilin by 9 am. There Kim visited Yuwen middle school, which his father attended during 1927-30. If Kim Jong-eun came too, this doubtless served to cement the idea of revolutionary heredity.

On August 27 the Jilin-Changchun expressway was closed so Kim’s convoy could make the journey in safety and solitude. There he met Hu Jintao, and probably introduced his son. Leaving Changchun on August 28, Kim was thought to be headed home; but by nightfall his train had not crossed the border. Instead, he made one more stop-off in Harbin before heading home.. Perhaps it suits the dear leader and son to be out of town and miss the frantic last-minute preparations and machinations for the Big Day in early September. Yet such an absence does seem surprising. Are they ultra-confident, or running scared?

Aidan Foster-Carter is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea at Leeds University, and a freelance consultant, writer and broadcaster on Korean affairs.

See the full text of the article here…





Hu’s message to Kim

2 09 2010

The Korea Herald, (Editorial 2010-08-3) China’s belated announcement on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s five-day visit to its northeastern provinces made clear what message the host, President Hu Jintao, gave his guest in their meeting on Friday in Changchun. […]  Beijing broke its silence about Kim’s tour only minutes after he crossed the Duman (Tumen) River Monday afternoon (August 30) to return to Pyongyang. The official Xinhua News Agency summarised the conversation between the two leaders which exposed what the two allies wanted from each other.

First, Hu called for the maintenance of high-level contacts on a regular basis. Second, bilateral trade and economic cooperation should be advanced through market operations at the initiatives of enterprises under government guidance. Third, strategic communication should be strengthened via prompt, thorough and in-depth dialogues to cope with regional and international situations.

While emphasising these principles, Hu lectured Kim on China’s experiences of a reform and opening-up drive over the past three decades for the central task of economic development and socialist modernisation. Xinhua News quoted him as saying: “Economic development calls for self-dependence but cannot be achieved without cooperating with the outside world. This is the inevitable path of the times that accelerates the development of a country.”

At one point in their discussion on security affairs, Hu referred to the UN Security Council presidential statement on the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan. He stressed the need to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula which “accords with the common aspiration of the people.” These remarks indicate China’s consideration of the attack as a serious threat to the regional peace although it had deterred the UNSC from adopting a resolution directly condemning North Korea.

Kim Jong-il’s reported expression of hope for an early resumption of the six-party talks and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula could just be lip service to his hosts, who have endeavoured to resolve the issue through the multilateral process over the past seven years. But it is certain that China pressed the North to return to the Beijing conference table, which it has boycotted since early last year.

The Chinese and North Korean announcements on Kim’s visit could not explain the atmosphere of urgency and secrecy which prevailed throughout the tour as well as the summit talks in Changchun. Kim hurriedly left for the tour on Thursday when former US President Jimmy Carter was in Pyongyang to get the release of a jailed American citizen. It was particularly discourteous in that Carter was the last foreign guest of Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, before his death in 1994.

Speculations had it that the North Korean leader with deteriorating health might have wanted to have the Chinese leadership endorse his plan to transfer power to his third son Kim Jong-eun. In return for his cooperation with China in its efforts to resume the six-party talks, Kim must have also asked for generous economic aid plus emergency supplies for the relief of flood victims.

With its advice on economic reform and openness, China is believed to have consented to a certain level of aid to the North to help stabilise its economy, which is staggering after the botched currency reform late last year. Yet, there was little hint of China making any positive response to the dynastic power transfer plan.

In the summit talks, Kim repeatedly emphasised the importance of developing DPRK-China friendship “for generations and centuries”. Xinhua did not report these remarks by itself but quoted a dispatch from the North Korean official Central News Agency. The KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to Xinhua: “With the international situation remaining complicated, it was the important historical mission of the DPRK to hand over the baton of the traditional friendship to the next generation as a precious asset”…

See the full text of the article here…

Kim Jong-il is making a surprise visit to China, South Korean officials say

Rick Wallace (The Australian, 27 Aug. 2010) Kim’s armoured train was detected crossing the border yesterday morning. “We are now in the process of finding out specific destinations and the purpose (of the trip),” an official told the Yonhap news agency. Kim visited China in May and is thought by some experts to have brought his apparent successor, youngest son Kim Jong-un, to meet Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao. It was unclear whether Kim was accompanied by his son yesterday and China declined to comment.

Leonid Petrov from the Australian National University said it was a strange time for Kim’s trip and it would have to be something “urgent”. The main rail line between the countries was cut for a time two days ago and remained in a poor state after flooding. Dr Petrov suspected a ruse to give Kim a reason to avoid meeting former US president Jimmy Carter, who arrived in Pyongyang this week to seek the release of an American detained for trespassing. This would be Mr Kim’s sixth trip to China, his country’s largest benefactor.





China allows Kim’s visit for regional balance of power: experts

31 08 2010

By Kim Young-gyo, HONG KONG, (Aug. 30 Yonhap) China seems to have allowed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s surprise visit as Beijing is seeking to achieve an equilibrium of power in the Asia-Pacific region, experts said Monday…

Simon Shen, professor of international relations at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said the Sino-North Korea summit appears to have been designed to flaunt their bilateral relations in response to a show of military force by South Korea and the United States. “The visit would have symbolic importance for Beijing after the U.S. military parade in the Yellow Sea,” Shen said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. “Beijing would like to exhibit its special relations with North Korea as part of the macro balance of power.”

While assessing that Kim’s visit will not bring direct changes to the regional security issues, Shen said North Korea will continue to be a part of the long-term balance of power among various players in Northeast Asia. “It shows that North Korea is still a trump card of China despite their relation’s ups and downs, and when hawks of China need to show off their muscle the North Korea regime could become useful,” he said.

Willy Lam, who teaches China studies at Japan’s Akita International University and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Beijing’s nod for Kim’s visit is aimed at exerting influence over nuclear-armed North Korea. “Hu needs to engage Kim because Beijing wants some degree of control over the pace of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons,” Lam told Yonhap. “Beijing knows that it’s possible for Kim or his successors to use these weapons to blackmail China. The Chinese leadership actually was cool toward the visit since Kim had already gone to Beijing in May. That’s why they didn’t want Kim to come to Beijing.”

The Hu leadership realizes China’s refusal to condemn North Korea over the Cheonan incident has been detrimental to China’s international image, Lam said, adding that Beijing at this stage doesn’t want to be seen as being too close to Kim. Beijing has claimed that the South Korea-U.S. drills would aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and threaten China’s security, but Seoul and Washington say the drills are defense-oriented and aimed at North Korea.

Rare Party Conference in N. Korea Raises Succession Questions

By Steve Herman, VOA, 30 Aug., Seoul. Many North Korea analysts expect Kim Jong Il’s third son, Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be about 27 years old, will be among those gaining a party Central Committee post. His father was given high party posts at about the same age and was groomed for decades to take control of the country. North Korea has cultivated a personality cult around its first leader, Kim Il Sung, who is called the Eternal President, and its current leader. North Korea scholars say it appears likely Kim Jong Il hopes to make sure his son builds support and power within the elite and military to ensure a smooth succession.

A senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, Park Hyeong Jung, says the son might be named to oversee the “organization and guidance” department under the Secretariat. Park says such a position would allow Kim Jong Un to make his own appointments, giving him an independent power base. Park explains the younger Kim would then be able to examine and criticize every organization within the party, effectively allowing him to monitor and control the actions of the elite.

But Balbina Hwang, a visiting professor at the U.S. National Defense University, thinks what emerges from the conference may not meet the expectations of outside analysts.  “I don’t think we’ll be satisfied with the outcome, meaning that, I don’t think, they will necessarily make an announcement stating Kim Jong Un or specifying a specific position or title,” she states.

She has little doubt Kim Jong Il is calling the shots, although Hwang predicts that before the son is firmly in power there will likely be some literal “bloodletting.” “There will be internal contestation over his legitimacy as the next ruler,” Hwang says, “It’s my personal belief that it is a done deal, in terms of what Kim Jong Il wants. And it is what Kim Jong Il is working very hard towards establishing.” She says the political jockeying as the son establishes his power could lead to purges and some executions among the North Korean elite.

Balbina Hwang says moving the spotlight in Pyongyang back to the party is significant.  “The fact that they seem to be shifting the center of power, possibly, away from the National Defense Commission and the military and toward the Workers Party signifies, I think, that there is a very substantial succession and transition underway, institutionally,” she said.

Many North Korea watchers think time is running short for the country’s absolute ruler. At the age of 68, he appears to be suffering from mounting health problems, and suffered a stroke two years ago. That may have weakened his decision-making abilities in a country facing severe challenges: an economy near collapse, food shortages, tough international sanctions and, except for China, no significant remaining allies.

Kim pays surprise visit: Media reports
Global Times, August 30, 2010

On Thursday, the first day of his visit, Kim went to Yuwen Middle School in Jilin city of the province, where his father, North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, went to school in the 1920s, Reuters reported. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper and Yonhap both reported that Kim was believed to have met President Hu in Changchun on Friday. On Saturday, Kim toured an agriculture exhibition site and Jilin Agricultural University in Changchun, Yonhap said.

Speculation also persisted on the aim of Kim’s visit, which was believed to be related to power succession, perhaps to introduce his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, to Chinese leaders. Reuters cited an unidentified source as saying Kim Jong-il was accompanied by his youngest son in the trip to seek Beijing’s approval of plans for his son to eventually succeed him.

But Cui Zhiying, a professor specializing in the Korean Peninsula at Tongji University, ruled out speculation about China’s involvement in discussions about the succession. “The succession of North Korea leaders is their domestic affair. China will not intervene in the domestic affairs of its neighboring country,” he said

Kim’s visit came at the time when North Korea has expressed a willingness to return to the Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which have been stalled since 2008. It also came as a surprise, especially as it coincided with a visit to Pyongyang by former US president Jimmy Carter, who returned home Friday with an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was sentenced in April to eight years in a North Korean prison for entering the country illegally.

Lü Chao, director of the North and South Korea Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, expressed his surprise about Kim’s missing of a meeting with Carter. “Carter has a good reputation in North Korea. Kim has met him before. But perhaps Kim missed this meeting on purpose to show his toughness and send a message that it will not bow to US pressure after a series of military drills between the US and South Korea,” he said.

Editorials in South Korea media expressed concern about Kim’s visit, fearing China may back the North and go against the South. But Lü called this “a distortion of Chinese foreign policy.” “Building friendship between China and North Korea is for the sake of stability of Northeast Asia and for the benefit of all countries,” Lu said.





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…





По Ким звонит колокол

12 06 2009

Игорь Прокопьев, Русский Newsweek (08.06.2009)

Смена власти в КНДР приведет либо к катастрофе, либо к сохранению статус-кво. Мало кто верит в реформы

…Как и многие диктаторы, Ким Чен Ир сознательно отбраковывал всех, кто демонстрировал лидерские качества – боялся конкурентов. В итоге лидеры в дефиците. «Когда вождь умирает, остается много вторых номеров, которые не готовы стать номером один. Какое-то время они правят вместе, а потом начинается борьба за власть», – рисует возможный сценарий Асмолов. Так, напоминает он, было после смерти Сталина и Мао.

Но Северная Корея – не СССР и не Китай. В такой маленькой и изолированной стране сценарии сверхдержав могут и не сработать. Собственно, они уже однажды не сработали – когда Ким Ир Сен объявил преемником своего сына Ким Чен Ира. Основателю династии тогда перевалило за шестьдесят. В 2002 году, когда шестьдесят исполнилось Киму Второму, все ожидали, что он назначит Кима Третьего, выбрав на эту роль одного из своих сыновей – старшего Ким Чон Нама, среднего Ким Чон Чхоля или младшего Ким Чон Уна. Но тогда этого не произошло. Сейчас тоже непонятно, материализуется ли информация южнокорейской разведки в конкретных решениях Пхеньяна.

Эксперты говорят, что Ким Третий должен обладать хваткой эффективного кризис-менеджера. Но дети Кима не обладают ни аппаратным весом, ни управленческим опытом. Младшему и среднему сыну еще не исполнилось тридцати. Старшему – 38, но считается, что он попал в немилость после неудачной поездки в Японию по подложным документам.

Поэтому наиболее вероятным, по мнению экспертов, будет сценарий, при котором один из сыновей станет номинальным руководителем, а у руля встанет коллективный орган вроде советского политбюро. «Сегодня в КНДР есть три властные группы, которые координируются из одного центра. Семья Кима – несколько сот человек. Трудовая партия Кореи (ТПК) – старые соратники Ким Ир Сена и их родственники. И силовики – армия и госбезопасность», – говорит кореист Леонид Петров из Национального университета Австралии.

По его словам, Ким Чон Чхоль (средний сын) недавно был назначен одним из секретарей ЦК Трудовой партии Кореи, но активности не проявлял. Ким Чон Ун (младший) учился в Берне, был под опекой посла в Швейцарии, который выдавал его за собственного сына и везде с ним ездил. Сын не очень здоров, но на данный момент – фаворит отца. «Считается, что еще в начале января отец написал в ТПК письмо с предложением рассматривать Уна как наследника, – продолжает Петров. – Ожидалось, что в феврале-марте его кандидатуру представят на выборы в Верховное народное собрание. Однако в списках не оказалось ни сына, ни отца».

Петров говорит, что Ун – самая подходящая фигура. Если назначить генерала или другого родственника, начнется борьба за власть. Ун самый младший в семье, и согласно конфуцианским традициям – которые несмотря на десятилетия коммунизма сильны в Северной Корее, – он не может пойти наперекор старшим родственникам. Считается, что Ун был изолирован от чьих-либо влияний, так как сначала жил за границей, а потом – в золотой клетке – во дворце в Пхеньяне.

Очевидно, что у детей Кима, обучавшихся на Западе, совсем другой жизненный опыт, чем у отца и дедушки. Но, по словам Майкла Брина, все трое – весьма заурядные, нехаризматичные личности. Отец – другое дело, он способен на неординарные поступки. «После смерти Ким Ир Сена все думали, что его сын откроет страну для всего мира», – говорит Майкл Брин. С детьми таких ожиданий пока никто не связывает.

Ким Первый объявил Ким Чен Ира своим наследником за двадцать лет до своей кончины. Но хотя все знали, что он станет новым руководителем, ему потребовалось три года после прихода к власти, чтобы подчинить себе аппарат и заручиться поддержкой всех группировок. Только тогда он почувствовал себя в безопасности. А потенциальные соперники у него были. «У Ким Ир Сена было две семьи: Ким Чен Ир от первого брака и куча детей от второго, и они тоже хотели власти», – объясняет Леонид Петров…

См. весь текст здесь…





North Korea’s Kim moves to anoint youngest son as heir

2 06 2009

kim-jong-un_sketch

Profile:  Kim Jong-un (Al Jazeera English, 3 June 2009)

Little is known about Kim Jong-un, the man apparently chosen as heir to North Korea’s dynasty. The 26-year-old was educated in Switzerland, but until recently he has not been known to hold any formal office in the North Korean government. No photographs have been released of him as an adult.

Because of his youth in a country which traditionally values seniority Kim Jong-un had been thought to be out of the running to take up his father’s leadership of North Korea, with analysts concentrating on his half-brother Kim Jong-nam and older brother, Kim Jong-chol. But a report in South Korea’s Yonhap news agency in January sparked speculation that Kim Jong-un could be named as heir.

The chatter about his possible succession increased after Kim Jong-un’s reported appointment to the National Defence Commission. The commission is the country’s most important government body, with Kim Jong-il as chairman.

Leonid Petrov, an expert on North Korea at The Australian National University in Canberra, told Al Jazeera that Kim Jong-un was likely to continue his father’s policies. “In a Confucian society the youngest son is the least powerful,” he said. “He is going to be loyal to his father. He is going to be obedient to his elder brothers”

“He doesn’t have a support base among military or public security. He is going to do what his father suggests for him to do. He is going to follow the policy both domestically and internationally, inter-Korean policy as well,” he said. Kim Jong-un is youngest son of Kim Jong-il and his late third wife Ko Yong-hui.

In 2003, a Japanese man writing under the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto wrote in his book titled ” I was Kim Jong-il’s Chef” that Kim Jong-un was his father’s favourite. But the death of Ko Yong-hui in 2004 appeared to put the younger Kim behind his half-brother Jong-nam in the succession race. However, Kim Jong-nam’s deportation from Japan in May 2001, and the middle brother – Kim Jong-chol’s – apparent “unmanliness” greatly improved Jong-un’s chances.

It is said that Kim Jong-un shares some of his father’s health problems and he is reported to be suffering from diabetes and heart disease due to a lack of exercise. Like his father, Kim Jong-un is said to enjoy popular culture, and is apparently a fan of US basketball.

Petrov suggested that Kim Jong-un’s European education could offer some hope for rapprochement with the international community after years of isolation.  “He was educated in North Korea and in Switzerland and although he didn’t have much exposure to his peers he is still probably more open-minded to the world and can be lured into some new arrangements for the Korean peninsula. “He has travelled a lot. He has met foreign people … His curiosity towards foreign proposals might lure the country out of its shell and open some avenues for productive and efficient dialogue,” he said.

Photo of Kim Jong-il’s Heir Apparent at Age of 16 Unveiled

kimjungunThe Korea Times (14 .06.2009) A new photo of Kim Jeong-un, 26, who has emerged as the heir apparent to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has been unveiled in a Japanese newspaper. On the front page of Monday edition, the Mainichi Shimbun said that the photo shows him in his 16 years, when he attended a public school as seventh grader in Berne, Switzerland. He is one of his classmates in a group photo, which is confirmed to have been taken in June, 1999, the news paper said. He wears a black round T-shirt and a gold-color necklace with his hair cut short. So far his only photo circulated is of 11 years old.

The newspaper added that he attended the school as a false name of “Park Un.” He stayed in Berne from summer 1996 to January 2001, where he moved from Berne International School where his brother Jeong-cheol, now at 28, learned, according to diplomatic sources. According to his middle school records, he got enrolled as the seventh grader, equivalent to one grader of middle school in Korea, in August, 1998, after receiving extra lesson for German language during his primary school days. He quit the school in late 2000, when he was a ninth grader.

He never appeared at school one day after he said in a teachers room he ‘would return to home country tomorrow,’ the Japanese daily quoted a teacher in charge of Jeong-un at the school then saying. Earlier, Asahi TV unveiled a grown-up photo of Jong-un, resembling his father, which was immediately denied by a Korean in his 40s, showing his photo. The Asahi photo was from it.

North Korea’s Heir Apparent Remains a Mystery

By CHOE SANG-HUN and MARTIN FACKLER NY Times (June 14, 2009) …Analysts are divided over whether Kim Jong-un also attended the school in Switzerland. They say he was enrolled from 2002 to 2007 in the Kim Il-sung Military University, a leading officer-training school in Pyongyang, the capital, but was taught at home. The son, these accounts say, is about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs more than 200 pounds. Mr. Fujimoto said in an interview that the young man he last saw in 2001 was stocky and athletic but not fat. He said Kim Jong-il dismissed Kim Jong-chol as “girlish” but openly complimented Kim Jong-un, saying, “That boy is like me.”

The sons lived a life few North Koreans could imagine: swimming pools, water fountains, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, inline skating tracks, a beach, Jet Skis and horses. An episode relayed by Mr. Fujimoto and often cited by analysts to illustrate Kim Jong-un’s sequestered existence, if not his leadership qualities, took place several years ago when the chef and Kim Jong-un were smoking a cigarette in a car. Mr. Kim, then 18, looked into the distance and, according to the chef’s account, said: “We are here, playing basketball, riding horses, riding Jet Skis, having fun together. But what of the lives of the average people?”

By Jon Herskovitz SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has told top officials to pledge loyalty to his youngest son, signalling his anointment as heir to the family dynasty that has ruled since the state’s founding, a lawmaker and South Korean media said on Tuesday. Kim, 67, is thought to have suffered a stroke in August that raised questions about his continued control. Analysts have said the North’s recent military grandstanding, including a nuclear test last week, may be aimed at helping him solidify power so he can name a successor.

North Korea has asked the country’s main bodies and its overseas missions to pledge loyalty to Kim’s youngest son Kim Jong-un, various South Korean media outlets quoted informed sources as saying. “I was notified by the South Korean government of such moves and the loyalty pledges,” Park Jie-won, a member of the opposition Democratic Party, said in a statement. He declined to name his source but the South’s Yonhap news agency said Park was among a group of lawmakers briefed on Monday night by the country’s spy agency about the succession plans.

Kim Jong-un, born either in 1983 or early 1984, was educated in Switzerland and intelligence sources have said he appears to be the most capable of Kim’s three known sons. Even by North Korea’s opaque standards, very little is known about the son, whose youth is a potential problem in a society that adheres closely to the importance of seniority.

The succession is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the highly secretive North, with Kim’s plans only known to his small inner circle. This recent round of reports have provided the most detailed information to date. Yonhap quoted an informed source as saying the request for an oath of loyalty came shortly after the nuclear test on May 25, which was hailed by the North’s propaganda as a crowning achievement in Kim Jong-il’s “military first” rule.

Powerful officials in Pyongyang, such as O Kuk-ryol, the vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission, and Choe Ik-gyu, the head of propaganda, were believed to be behind the younger Kim. Furthermore, Jang Song-taek, thought to be the acting ruler of North Korea due to Kim Jong-il’s illness and married to the dictator’s sister, has switched his support from the oldest to the youngest brother.

Leading South Korean daily Dong-A Ilbo quoted an informed source as saying: “North Korean leadership is educating senior officials at major security authorities with an emphasis on the justification of father-to-son succession over three generations.”

In April, Kim Jong-il put to rest any doubt about whom he sees as his second in command when he elevated his brother-in-law Jang Song-taek to a powerful military post, analysts said. Analysts said they see the energetic and urbane Jang, 63, as the real power broker after Kim who will groom the successor. Jang, who once fell out of Kim’s favour, has in recent year’s been Kim’s right hand man, they said.

Hankyoreh (“3RD HEREDITARY SUCCESSION OF POWER OF DPRK”, 2009/06/03) wrote that despite consideration of special conditions of the DPRK regime, a 3 rd hereditary succession of power is certainly an act of underdevelopment. Showing military authorities, the core power of DPRK, moving in strict order against outside threats is an efficient way for inner unity. Even if certain sanctions on the DPRK’s nuclear experiment are inevitable, the windows for communication shouldn’t be closed. Especially the theory on DPRK’s fall, which comes out to surface every time the DPRK is faced with problems, will only intensify mistrust between each other and worsen the situation. Our government should first urgently review the current DPRK policy.

Chosun Ilbo (“KIM ILSUNG, KIM JUNGIL, KIM JUNGWOON”, 2009/06/03) reported that in the short term, there is a great possibility the DPRK will be provocative externally for unification internally. In the medium term, the current government needs to review its DPRK policy. It’s becoming clearer that “denuclearization, opening, 3000” which means that ROK will fully support only if DPRK gives up its nuclear program and opens up, is not realistic. In the long term, we must prepare for insecurity within the DPRK, which might come after Kim Jungwoon’s succession.