Kim Jong Un: North Korea's next leader?
'Dear Leader' Kim Jong Il has reportedly tapped his youngest son as his successor.
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"The designation of the successor was passed down to North Korea's Workers Party, the Supreme People's Assembly, and military right after the North carried out a nuclear test last week," according to the conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's biggest-selling newspaper, citing simply "several intelligence sources."Skip to next paragraph
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The same reports say mid-level party, government, and military officials were notified for the first time that Kim Jong Il had "apparently made the choice early this year," says Chosun Ilbo.
The article suggests that "high-level officials in North Korea" were "confidentially notified of the decision" before word filtered down the ranks.
A song to praise Kim Jong Un?
Park Jie Won, former top aide of Kim Dae Jung, the former South Korean president who initiated the South's Sunshine policy of reconciliation with North Korea, said National Intelligence Service officials had told him North Korean officials are now "pledging allegiance" to Kim Jong Un. Mr. Park, now a member of the National Assembly, helped arrange for Kim Dae-jung's summit with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in June 2000.
North Koreans reportedly are referring to Kim Jong Un as "Commander Kim," and learning a new song written in his praise similar to songs written for his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who ruled the North from the end of World War II, through the Korean War, until his death in July 1994.
The adulation for Kim Jong Un strikes some observers as extremely strange, considering that the young man was educated in a school in Bern, Switzerland (where he learned English, German, and French), is a fan of the National Basketball Association, and has nothing in his background to recommend him to leadership, aside from his father's love.
Kim Jong Il's concern about his health appears to be the driving factor behind his concerns about succession, as well as his military and diplomatic moves.
"North Koreans are consolidating behind Kim Jong Il's power," says Kim Tae-woo. "Of course they will be thinking about succession."
A favorite, perhaps by default
Kim Tae-woo wonders, however, if reports of Kim Jong Un's rise are premature. "I don't believe it even though Kim Jong Il could be a favorite son of his father. Frankly, I am confused."