On birthday of Kim Jong-il's son, a North Korea rising star

On the birthday of Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader Kim Jong-il's son, newspaper drew attention to the "unusual brightness" and placement of Venus, which was seen as a good sign for Kim Jong-un.

By , Correspondent

  • close
    A reproduction of a page of South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo created in Seoul on June 16, 2009 shows stories and alleged pictures of Kim Jong-Un
    View Caption

At least one of the planets appeared to be properly aligned – in the rhetoric from Pyongyang – when North Korea’s heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, marked his 26th or 27th birthday Friday.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency reported several days ago that the “morning star” Venus “shed an unusually bright light” above the lake that fills the crater of sacred Mount Paektu on North Korea’s border with China.

Considering that North Korean mythology holds that Kim Jong-un’s father, Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, was born in a log cabin on a slope of Paektu, at 9,000 feet the highest peak on the Korean peninsula, observers take the report of Venus shimmering high above as a serious portent.

Recommended: Kim Jong-un's 6 super-duper titles

North Korea’s party newspaper Rodong Sinmun evoked the image of Paektu again on Friday, calling on readers to “toast to the endlessly bright future of Chosun (the traditional name for Korea) that will resemble the shape of the sun and the holy land of Paektu.”

The editorial, like the report on “the morning star Venus,” did not mention Kim Jong-un by name, but analysts are confident of the connection. “They believe Venus symbolized Kim Jong-un,” says Ryoo Kihl-jae, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, carefully measuring his words. “Many people who have visited North Korea say so.”

Whether or not Kim Jong-un is openly declared as heir to his father’s power, reports of birthday observances around the country leave little doubt of his rising stature.

Defense commission could be springboard

Daily NK, one of several organizations in Seoul that write about North Korea, reported Friday on a “central conference” in Pyongyang and elsewhere featuring “commemorative events” for officials and “lectures for residents.” Such a conference is normally a grand affair, similar to those staged annually for Kim Jong-il’s birthday, which falls next month, or the birthdays of Kim Jong-il's father, Great Leader Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, and mother, Kim Jong-suk, who died in 1949.

The commemorations parallel meetings going on around the country to rev up support for a revaluation of North Korea’s currency that has stripped a small but rising mercantile middle class of much of the money hoarded from often illicit black-market dealings. The currency reform is widely viewed as having failed since while the newly valued money goes down markedly in value, hunger persists, and markets flounder.

For all the signs of Kim Jong-un’s growing stature, however, his exact age remains uncertain. That’s presumed to be because North Korea’s aging leadership may well see him as far too young and inexperienced while his father hastily grooms him for power by giving him increasing responsibilities and escorting him on visits to military units and factories.

The North Korean media has reported that Kim Jong-un was born in 1982, one year earlier than the year previously believed. His mother, Ko Young-hee, born in Japan, once a dancer in one of the troupes that performs for North Korea’s ruling elite as well as foreign visitors, reportedly died in 2004, likely from breast cancer.

Kim Jong-un is believed to be serving on the national defense commission while also serving an apprenticeship in the department of organization and guidance, a nebulous agency with tentacles throughout the armed forces, the government, and the Workers’ Party, the three pillars of the North Korean power ruling structure.

A position for Kim Jong-un on the defense commission could well serve as a springboard to succeed his father, the commission chairman, who took over the post well before the death in 1994 of his own father, Great Leader Kim Il-sung.

The Daily NK report adds credibility to a report by the rival NK Open Radio, which reported Thursday that about 7,000 people attended the “central conference” in Pyongyang and that North Koreans on Friday and Saturday are observing a two-day holiday. Ha Tae Keung, president of NK Open Radio, says his station, which broadcasts two hours of news and analysis daily by short wave into North Korea from Seoul, attributes the report to three different sources who inform the station from illegal cell phone contacts near the North’s border with China.

“Of course the observances symbolize to their people the North Korean regime power shift,” says Mr. Ha. “They officialize the power inheritance.”

New emphasis on youth

Yet another sign of the shift that’s under way is the emphasis placed in a New Year’s editorial published in all North Korean newspapers on the rising power of youth.

The editorial described “the youth” as “a shock brigade in the great revolutionary upsurge” – and called on young people to “become heroes, who add luster to the era of the great upsurge with undying labor feats and talented persons.”

Those lines, toward the end of a lengthy message that placed primary emphasis on rebuilding the economy, seems to be a reference to Kim Jong-un’s ascent. He is believed to have been on a fast track to power for at least a year while uncertainty prevails regarding the health of his father, said to be suffering from diabetes and a possible stroke.

Kim Jong-un “becomes more powerful as time goes on,” says Ryoo Kihl-jae. ”Some people argue that he now has a position on the national defense commission,” the center of power in North Korea.

Kim Jong-un seems to have gotten the nod ahead of two older brothers. It is assumed that he basically is a front person for a coterie of elderly leaders, including his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, brother of his late mother.

Mr. Jang’s place in that leadership, however, “will be valid only as long as Kim Jong-il lives,” says Mr. Ryoo. “It is not certain after Kim Jong-il dies.”

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Module start 'content'
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl:10[1] Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Variable 'story_source' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/mugo_view_extras/autoloads/template_operators.php on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 13:17:51
End

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0128 sec 1,286.1328 KB1,162.2891 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0128 sec1.7477 sec 2,448.4219 KB11,965.5156 KB
Module end 'content' 1.7605 sec0.0151 sec 14,413.9375 KB399.7656 KB
Before parse_includes 1.7756 sec0.0447 sec 14,813.7031 KB272.6641 KB
After parse_includes 1.8203 sec0.0008 sec 15,086.3672 KB-186.0000 KB
End 1.8210 sec  14,900.3672 KB 
Total runtime:1.8266 sec
Peak memory usage:21,146.1406 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
ini_load
Load cache0.0067 sec0.3656%360.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.1633 sec8.9269%2210.0007 sec
Looping result0.0525 sec2.8721%2150.0002 sec
Template Total1.7787 sec 97.2% 8 0.2223 sec
Template load0.0070 sec0.3847%80.0009 sec
Template processing1.7716 sec96.8388%80.2214 sec
Template load and register function0.0002 sec0.0119%40.0001 sec
states
state_id_array0.0088 sec0.4823%170.0005 sec
state_identifier_array0.0120 sec0.6570%230.0005 sec
override
Cache load0.0064 sec0.3524%1010.0001 sec
eZ Find
Search0.0899 sec4.9168%10.0899 sec
Query build0.0819 sec4.4773%10.0819 sec
Class attribute list0.0761 sec4.1576%10.0761 sec
Engine time0.0063 sec0.3466%10.0063 sec
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0020 sec0.1116%40.0005 sec
Fetch class attribute name0.0002 sec0.0113%110.0000 sec
XML
Image XML parsing0.0037 sec0.2022%40.0009 sec
class_abstraction
Instantiating content class attribute0.0001 sec0.0043%120.0000 sec
General
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0009%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0015 sec0.0805%450.0000 sec
View Extra building0.0098 sec0.5332%40.0024 sec
Total script time:1.8294 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:

CacheTypePacklevelSourceFiles
01a980f93dc967c6e39d52a11ae2108b_1404899611_all.cssCSS3extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/normalize.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/html5b.css
design/standard/stylesheets/debug.css
extension/ezwt/design/standard/stylesheets/websitetoolbar.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/jquery-ui-1.10.3.custom.min.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/desktop.css
ede0a88fd146f1a095d27fb22227d0e5_1398846822.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/modernizr.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
1650da1ba852ac5f9af81af07e8fa105_1404899611.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery-ui-1.10.4.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/json2.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery.cookie.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.mobile.custom.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.arthole.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sticky.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.right_column.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory_editorspickdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sailthru_signup.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.jcarousel.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.history.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.mainNav.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.gallery.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.staffdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jQuery.rollChildren.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/pubService_extended.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/csm/csmNew.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.quiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.spectrumQuiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/global.js

Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
20content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
16content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/sup.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/sup.tplEdit templateOverride template
4content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/line.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/line.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezobjectrelationlist.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_images.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_images.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/eztext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/eztext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplcontent/datatype/view/image_credit.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/image_credit.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 59
 Number of unique templates used: 18
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0004 secs