Reports in South Korean and Japanese media this week say North Korean
leader Kim Jong Il has named an heir. Speculation on who would take
over after Mr. Kim's death has risen ever since reports surfaced that
he suffered a stroke last year.
The latest report, coming from
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quotes someone it calls "a well-informed
source", as saying North Korea's Leader Kim Jong Il has chosen the
youngest of his three sons, Kim Jong Un, to eventually take control of
Just two days earlier, a Japanese daily newspaper
reported that a collective government will be formed with Kim Jong Nam,
the eldest son of the leader Kim Jong Il, as head of state in name
With North Korea being one of the world's most secretive
states, there is no way to verify these reports. And analysts who
monitor Pyongyang's official propaganda have not noticed any changes
that indicate a successor has been chosen.
senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Seoul, says this is
not the first time that Mr. Kim has considered his youngest son for the
"Supposedly, people say he is close to this
son," he said. "Of course, Kim Jong Il would have to, if this is his
desire, then he will have to manipulate the system and take more
actions to make that more likely."
If any of these
reports turn out to be accurate, Leader Kim Jong Il's selection of one
of his sons, might have to do with his deteriorating health.
year, after Mr. Kim failed to appear at a ceremony marking the 60th
anniversary of his nation's founding, reports surfaced that he may have
suffered a stroke. Pyongyang denied these claims, labeling them as
lies concocted by the West. Then a French neurosurgeon, who claims to
have treated Mr. Kim, confirmed the rumors and said the reclusive ruler
Pinkston says we shouldn't count Mr. Kim out of the picture yet.
can have that type of health problem and fully recover and live for
quite a long time. And all the indicators, all the signs indicate that
he is in firm control and that he is healthy, and there are no
problems," he said.
If any of Mr. Kim's sons do become North
Korea's next ruler, it will be the second time in history that power
has transferred from father to son in a communist nation. The first,
was when Kim Jong Il himself ascended to power in 1994 following the
death of his father, North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung.