News / Asia

North Korea Trying to Make Succession Look Solid

North Korea's efforts to solidify Kim Jong Un as the communist nation's new supreme leader appear to be intensifying.  North Korea's state-run media Tuesday released video of the new leader rallying troops during a visit to a powerful army unit.  The timing is not a coincidence.

The video shows Kim Jong Un on a New Year's Day tour, rallying troops from one of the army's elite tank divisions.

Later, he shares a laugh.... and even appears to be giving some pointers... before posing for photographs.

"Collectively the message, perhaps more predominantly for internal consumption - [is] to reassure the public there is a hand on the helm.," said Bruce Klingner.

The Heritage Foundation's Bruce Klingner says North Korea is likely also hoping the video sends the same message to the West, where questions remain about Kim Jong Un's ability to lead.

"Because he's untested, he doesn't have the decades of experience his father had whether we're more likely to have a danger of miscalculation in some sort of future provocation where Kim Jong Un may go further than his father did because he doesn't realize where the red line is," he said.

One of the big questions - and of prime concern here in Washington - the fate of the so-called six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for badly needed aid.

Already, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is in Beijing - and will make his way to Seoul and Tokyo - for talks expected to focus on what comes next.

Back in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says, so far, the U.S. has not been impressed with the tough rhetoric that continues to spill out of Pyongyang.

"That won't be conducive to getting us back to the table," she said.

So the world watches and waits, wondering what, if anything, the young Kim Jong Un, will do next.


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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