Kim Jong-il’s heir not seen on list of new lawmakers
North Korea released the names of 687 newly elected Supreme People’s Assembly members on Monday night, including news of the re-election of its leader Kim Jong-il, but none of Kim’s sons were included in the roster of the country’s legislators.
The elections took place amid speculation that Kim, recovering from a suspected stroke last year, might name an heir. “No special signs of power succession were shown in the latest elections,” Kim Ho-nyoun, spokesman of Unification Ministry, said yesterday.
Kim Jong-il is known to have three sons - Jong-nam, Jong-chol and Jong-un.
With the latest elections, 324 of the 687-member legislature were replaced. While the Supreme People’s Assembly is a rubber-stamp legislature, the officials form the power elite of the North, taking key positions in the military, government and Workers’ Party.
Most of the replacements filled vacancies created by aged officials’ deaths, but veterans of the North’s politics, known as “the first generation of the Korean revolution,” were reelected.
Kim Yong-nam, the North’s titular head of state and the leader of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, kept his post, as did Jo Myong-rok, the first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission.
Korean People’s Army Marshal Ri Ul-sol and Ri Yong-mu, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, were also reelected.
Yang Hyong-sop, the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, was re-elected for his 10th term, becoming the longest serving lawmaker of the North.
While the aged comrades of Kim Il Sung, the late founder of the state, were expected to retire from politics, their symbolic significance was too important to fade in North Korean society, experts said.
Jang Song-thaek, a Workers’ Party official and brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il, was re-elected along with other key officials of the cabinet, party and military.
Oh Guk-ryol and Pak Myong-chol, Pyongyang’s elder statesmen who had temporarily retired, also returned.
Those who had been accused of corruption, such as Choi Yong-su, former minister of people’s security, and Choi Sung-chol, deputy department head of the unification front, were ousted.
Ri Myong-su, an administrative department head of the National Defense Commission who had been known as Kim Jong-il’s shadow, also did not make it into the list of new lawmakers.
Ri was last seen in February during Kim’s visit to a military unit, and intelligence officials speculated that he either has health problems or has committed a serious mistake.
Among the North’s South Korea affairs veterans, Kim Yang-gon, the head of the unification front department; Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the North’s Asia?Pacific Peace Committee; and Kim Yong-dae, chairman of the Korean Council For Reconciliation and Cooperation, were elected. Through the latest elections, the North also appointed young technocrats to the leadership posts to achieve the county’s vision of a “Strong Economy” by 2012.
Kim Sok-nam, Kim Myong-hwan and Shin Yong-chol are factory managers known for their business success since early 2000. All three made the list.
Newly appointed ministers in charge of North Korea’s economy also won places in the legislature.
By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]