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NK heir apparent`s power succession proceeding smoothly

Posted September. 19, 2011 08:16,   


North Korea held a representatives` conference of its ruling Workers’ Party on Sept. 28 last year to appoint Kim Jong Un, the third son and heir apparent of the North`s leader Kim Jong Il, as vice chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission.

Coming just a day after Pyongyang gave him the title of general of the North Korean People’s Army, the announcement also made it official that the junior Kim would succeed his father, who also inherited power from his late father, Kim Il Sung.

In one year`s time, most North Korea experts say Kim Jong Un is seeing a smooth process of solidifying his position as the No. 2 man in the North, defying predictions that the rise of a 27-year-old son with no administrative experience would cause turbulence in Pyongyang’s power structure.

The change in the junior Kim’s status as reflected in the North’s state-controlled media suggests the smooth process of the father-to-son power transfer. The media mentioned his name as the fifth or sixth among members of high-ranking officials accompanying Kim Jong Il’s field guidance visits.

Kim Jong Un has recently been mentioned right after his father in most cases except when Kim Yong Nam, the head of the North`s parliament and titular head of state, is cited. The North’s Korean Central Television occasionally shows senior members of the leadership such as party secretaries Kim Ki Nam and Choe Thae Pok giving deep bows to the heir apparent.

Propaganda efforts for the young leader’s idolization are also speeding up. At places that the junior Kim visited for field guidance, commemorative monuments or signboards have been set up.

Large placards describing the North Korean people’s “fortune” of having him as a “great general” have also been sighted at apartment complexes or train stations.

“It appears that more than half of the North’s power has been transferred to Kim Jong Un,” said Chung Sung-chang, a senior researcher at South Korea`s state-funded Sejong Institute. “He is already involved in personnel affairs, effectively playing the role of a party secretary.”

Nam Sung-wook, director of the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, said the grooming of Kim Jong Un is proceeding smoothly, adding, “Thanks to his father’s power, no movement against his leadership has been detected.”

Yet certain experts say it is too early to reach a conclusion on Kim Jong Un`s political status as his ability remains unproven and his father’s health is unknown. North Korea defectors in South Korea also say many North Koreans are cynical about the junior Kim.

Separately, the Global Times, a sister paper of the People’s Daily of China, provided a detailed article on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Taedong Combined Fruit Processing Factory, where he appreciated the fragrance of a perfume. Kim looked like a perfume connoisseur, with his facial expression looking mesmerized, the report said.

Certain Chinese Internet users reacted cynically to the report, criticizing Kim Jong Un for indulging in perfume at a time when his people are starving.

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