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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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