North Korea: New clues about who will replace Kim Jong-il
In a rare meeting of parliament Monday, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il increased the political influence of his brother-in law. The move is seen as supporting the leader's heir apparent – his youngest son – and curbing any power plays within the military.
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Kim Jong-il, in elevating Choe, apparently felt the need for a staunch follower to replace the outgoing premier, Kim Yong-il, who had held a number of economic positions taking over the post in 2007. The 81-year-old Choe, 15 years older than Kim Yong-il, is expected to coordinate the response to the Cheonan episode.Skip to next paragraph
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Jang’s appointment also is seen as a response to the tensions over the Cheonan sinking. Jang “is well known as as a propaganda person,” says Kim Tae-woo. “He has been useful for diplomacy.” In that sense, says Mr. Kim, his appointment is “kind of a defensive measure.”
What does Kim's oldest son say?
Kim Jong-il has apparently focused on succession since his reported stroke. One person who appears to have lost out completely in the power game is his oldest son, Kim Jong-nam, who spoke to a South Korean reporter last weekend in the gambling center of Macao.
Kim Jong-nam avoided a question as to whether he had said that Kim Jong-eun – his brother – should not be considered to succeed his father. “I do not have any idea of what you just said,” he reportedly answered, according to JoongAng Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper.
Kim Jong-nam, whose mother was Kim Jong-il's first mistress, a former actress who died in 2002, was reported to have been spreading the word in Macao that Kim Jong-eun should not be eligible for succession since his mother also had been one of his father’s mistresses.
In recent months, however, North Korean propaganda has been referring to Kim Jong-eun’s mother, who died six years ago, as “respected mother,” another sign that he is in line for power.
Kim Jong-nam’s star began to fade after Japanese immigration officials stopped him in 2001 as he was entering Japan with a fake Dominican Republic passport and explained he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Kim Jong-nam appeared embarrassed when asked about the sinking of the Cheonan. “I do not know, please stop,” he was quoted as saying.
As for his father, he said he was “doing well. And as for his own health, he responded, “Fine, now are you satisfied?”
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