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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid