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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs