News / Asia

North Korean Supreme Leader's Son Elevated to Key Posts

Delegates clap in union during the ruling Workers' Party representatives meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 28 Sep 2010
Delegates clap in union during the ruling Workers' Party representatives meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 28 Sep 2010

The youngest son of North Korea's supreme leader has received powerful posts in the ruling party. Regional experts say while that may solidify his path to succeed his father, for now there is no doubt that Kim Jong Il remains in charge.

Hours after Kim Jong Un was promoted to four-star general in North Korea, state media early Wednesday announced he also was appointed to the Workers' Party Central Committee and - more significantly - named vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.

Regional political analysts say those positions clearly set him on the road to succeeding his father, Kim Jong Il.

Even so, the morning newscast from Pyongyang's official broadcaster seemed to emphasize that the elder Kim retains his grip on power, devoting its first seven minutes to praising him.

The announcer says serving Kim Jong Il, with his unchanging highest rank in the Korea Worker's Party, leads to victory and is the greatest glory and happiness for the people, the soldiers, and the nation.

Kim Jong Il assumed power when his father, Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, died in 1994. But he had two decades to develop his political skills and a public reputation before that.

His son, who is about 27, may not have as long, since Kim Jong Il, at 68, reportedly is ailing. Some North Korea experts say that could lead to problems over the next few years, as the son may try to build strength by pushing out opponents and instigating provocative military acts.

Ha Tae-keung is president of Open Radio for North Korea, which says it relies on sources in the North. Ha predicts a "sweeping purge" in the Workers' Party that could prompt a backlash from those who served loyally under Kim Jong-il, but oppose the son.

Ha also says it is likely that North-South relations will deteriorate. He expects the younger Kim to intensify tension with Seoul to bolster his weak power base.

Little is known about Kim Jong Un, even inside North Korea. The only state media references to him, so far, are about his appointments without noting who he is.

The elder Kim's sister and her husband also received prominent party posts Tuesday. Regional analysts interpret those promotions as attempting to ensure a smooth succession to a third generation of the Kim family.

The reaction in Seoul has been skeptical.

The Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper predicts it will be difficult for the son to be recognized as a legitimate leader by his own people and other countries. The Korea Herald says hereditary succession is "an attempt to backslide into the dark ages."

In Washington, Defense Department spokesman Colonel David Lapan says U.S. objectives remain the same regardless of who is in charge in Pyongyang.

"Whatever regime is in power in North Korea takes steps to stop pursuing nuclear weapons and proliferation and looks for peace and stability on the peninsula," said Lapan.  "So it matters less who is in positions of leadership there and more what they do to reach those objectives."

The United States maintains 28,000 troops in South Korea.

Also Wednesday, South Korea's Ministry of Defense said the two Koreas will hold working-level military talks on Thursday, the first in two yeas.

Tensions have been high on the peninsula since the sinking of a South Korean warship six months ago. Seoul, Washington and others blame a North Korean torpedo for the incident in which 46 South Korean sailors died.

Pyongyang denies any involvement.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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