News / Asia

North Korean Defectors Not Surprised by Promotion of Leader's Son

A South Korean man in Seoul watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as he appointed youngest son, Kim Jong Un - shown in portrait at top right - as an army general in an apparent sign he is being groomed as country's next leader,
A South Korean man in Seoul watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as he appointed youngest son, Kim Jong Un - shown in portrait at top right - as an army general in an apparent sign he is being groomed as country's next leader,

Multimedia

Audio

Many North Korean defectors living in South Korea said they are not surprised that a son of leader Kim Jong Il has been appointed to prominent party posts, a move thought to signal the start of a leadership succession.

They also said they think ordinary North Korean citizens do not care very much about who will lead their country.

Lee Sae Yul is a 13-year veteran of North Korea's army who defected to South Korea in 2008.  Lee uses cell phones smuggled from China to keep in contact with family and friends back in North Korea.  He said most of the people he speaks with did not even know Kim Jong Un's name before this week, but they already knew about him from a song.

Lee said there is a propaganda song about Kim Jung Un called "Footsteps," which has been widely spread around to the public.  But his name was not mentioned, he was just called the 'Young General.'

On Tuesday, North Korean state media announced that Kim Jung Un, who is thought to be about 27-years-old, had been made a four-star general.  Several hours later, a meeting of the North's ruling Workers' Party appointed the son of the nation's leader, Kim Jong Il, to prominent party posts.

North Korea experts said the younger Kim's promotions are intended to establish him as a successor to his 68-year-old father.

Lee said it is no surprise to him and other members of the North Korea Liberation Front, a Seoul organization of ex-soldiers, that Kim Jong Un is now a general.  Lee doubts that Kim - nor his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, who also was made a general - have any military experience.

Regardless, the North Korea Liberation Front's director, Kim Myoung Ha, said that based on Pyongyang's military first policy, any future leader must have military credentials, real or not.

Kim said if anyone wants a job in North Korea they must have two things, an education and military experience.  The whole nation is based on the military.  Kim said there is almost no way for North Korean soldiers to learn that their new general is a fraud.  But Kim said he does not think that most North Koreans are concerned with who their next ruler will be.

Park Gun Ha agrees. He was once a member of the Workers Party and now belongs to a defector organization involving former government officials.  Park said North Koreans lost hope when Kim Jong Il took over and the economy went bad.  He said they do not really care about who the successor is, they are much more concerned with how they will survive.

Park said if the government can not improve conditions in the impoverished country, it is unlikely North Koreans will give their support to Kim Jong Un when he does eventually take over.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More