Sources: Kim chooses third son as heir
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who has heightened tensions in the region with a nuclear test, missile launches and military threats, has reportedly tapped third son Kim Jong-un as his successor, intelligence sources say.
A source privy to North Korean affairs told the JoongAng Ilbo that the country’s leadership circle decided that it urgently needed to name a successor after Kim Jong-il’s stroke last year.
“Kim Jong-un, 26, is the chosen one,” the source said.
Experts have linked the North’s recent nuclear test to the issue of succession, saying it was an attempt to show solidarity with the military, whose support is essential for the smooth transition of power in Pyongyang.
Another source said there have been some changes to the country’s chain of command as the junior Kim emerged as the likely successor. According to that source, officials such as O Kuk-ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People’s Armed Forces; and Choe Ik-gyu, head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department at the ruling Workers’ Party, have led efforts to make Kim Jong-un the next leader of the country. O, Kim Yong-chun and Choe are early graduates of the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School, an eight-year educational institute for children or descendants of Kim Il Sung’s comrades and for children of high-ranking government officials. The late Kim Il Sung was the founding leader of the North and Kim Jong-il’s father.
Kim Jong-un is the second son of Kim Jong-il’s third wife, Ko Yong-hee, who passed away in 2004.
It is not yet clear in what capacity the junior Kim is working at the moment. The South Korean government refused to speculate.
Still, an official here said that “there hasn’t been any official nominating process in Pyongyang, nor has North Korea informed its overseas embassies of any move.”
By Jeong Yong-soo [email@example.com]