[EDITORIALS]A hereditary succession?The Central Broadcasting Station of North Korea has made a report that hints at a hereditary succession of power from Kim Jong-il to his son. It broadcast the late Kim Il Sung’s statement: “If I don’t accomplish the sacred national task, it must be fulfilled by my son in succession and even by my grandson’s generation if my son fails to accomplish it.” It also reported that Kim Il Sung’s father, Kim Hyong-jik, had once said similar words.
The North Korean media occasionally reported that the socialist revolution must be carried out from generation to generation in succession. However, there is something noteworthy in the report this time. It has referred to the names of leaders of the three generations and used the word “grandson” that specifies their relationship. Also unusual is that the broadcaster emphasized Kim Jong-il’s idea of “accomplishing the Great Leader’s teachings” as an ideology “to continue the socialist revolution from generation to generation.” Analysts are of the opinion that the move has to do with the demotion of Jang Song-taek, who was second in line to Kim Jong-il.
Of course, it is difficult to conclude that a hereditary succession has been decided upon. And North Koreans must decide on their choice of a power structure. But we watch with keen interest, because it’s impact on the peninsula will be tremendous.
First of all, North Korea can’t escape the mockery and criticism of the international community. A hereditary succession of power, rather than through elections, will symbolize that the North is under dictatorial rule. While it has called for “anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism,” if the North insists on a hereditary successsion, it will become a laughing stock.
Enhancing democracy and freedom is an irresistible world trend. If the North tries to hand over power through hereditary succession, no country will recognize North Korea as a nation living in the 21st century. And no others will give support to a dynastic regime.
The North shouldn’t resolve its succession problem in a way that will be disdained by the international community. It must find a way to get international recognition. Although the North can’t implement democracy right away, it can visualize debates on the issue in the Workers’ Party, as China does. The South Korean government must pay attention to the issue, because it is one of the core factors that will decide future inter-Korean relations.
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