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NK appoints heir apparent`s supporter to key post

Posted February. 14, 2011 10:04,   


North Korea has reportedly appointed Vice Trade Minister Jo Jong Ho as chairman of a civic committee for Rajin-Sonbong Special City, a major post in the North, to succeed Kim Su Yol, who was dismissed late last year.

Jo is a member of a group that supports Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and heir apparent, and reportedly has helped set the North’s new economic policy.

A source on North Korean affairs said Sunday, “Jo Jong Ho has been named the new chairman of the people’s committee, a post which has remained vacant after the dismissal of former chairman Kim due to sluggish foreign investment.”

“Since Jo used to work with former Trade Minister Im Kyong Man, chief secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party for Rason City, he will likely enjoy a harmonious working relationship with Im.”

Pyongyang has apparently deployed a key member of the power elite among supporters’ groups of Kim Jong Un to an important economic region to lay the foundation for a successful power succession based on economic achievements.

The source said, “The North deployed a Kim Jong Un supporter at a time when Pyongyang is striving to establish the structure for power succession,” adding, “Since Jo is fluent in English, activities to attract foreign investment from overseas enterprises will likely gather momentum.”

Experts predict that the North will mark leader Kim Jong Il’s birthday Wednesday, the first since his son was picked as his successor last year, in a subdued fashion without highlighting Kim Jong Un as the heir apparent.

If Kim Jong Un receives too much of the spotlight, however, his father could suffer from the lame duck phenomenon. Pyongyang has been accelerating the process for power succession by placing the propaganda slogan “Luck of a great leader” in public places and playing “Solid Steps,” a song praising the young scion, in repertoires at performances.

The North will likely celebrate Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday next year, “the first year of (his) deterioration,” through lavish festivities. Next year will also mark the centennial birthday of the late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (Day of the Sun, April 15).

Thus chances are high that next year’s birthday events for the two Kims will be convened for Pyongyang to declare itself a “strong and powerful nation” and celebrate the conclusion of the power succession.

Attention is also focused on how much food the North can provide to its people to appease discontent on the occasion of Kim Jong Il’s birthday this year. Experts say food will be inadequately distributed because of strained inter-Korean dialogue and halted foreign aid due to international sanctions on the North.