Kim Jong-un elected to parliament

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Kim Jong-un elected to parliament

Kim Jong-un, the youngest son and possible heir of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was elected to the parliament of the one-party communist state in March of last year, a Western source told a small group of reporters in Seoul.

“We confirmed Kim Jong-un was elected as a representative from District 216 through North Korean sources two months after the election,” the Western source said.

The Supreme People’s Assembly is a rubber stamp for the Communist Party and is comprised of high-ranking Communist Party officials. The election of Kim Jong-un, 27, is further evidence that he is being groomed to succeed his ailing father over his two older brothers.

North Korea announced a new roster of its 687-member parliament after the election on March 9, 2009, which included a member named “Kim Jong” representing District 216. In a March 10, 2009 report, the JoongAng Ilbo cited sources speculating that he might be Kim Jong-un.

The number 216 refers to Feb. 16, Kim Jong-il’s birthday, the Western source said.

“After the election,” the source said, “‘Pal-Kol-Um,’ a song extolling Kim Jong-un, began to be sung at primary schools.” Pal-kol-um, or bal-geol-eum, is Korean for footstep.

The source said the political strength of Kim Jong-il has weakened since the summer of 2008, when he reportedly had a stroke. The source said Kim may have made a deal with hard-line military figures in the North, in which he agreed to give them more power if they recognized Kim Jong-un as his successor.

The source said the increasing clout of the hardliners might have led to the Cheonan incident, which contradicts another theory that Kim Jong-un ordered the South Korean ship sunk to solidify his position as heir apparent. The source said if the incident had ordered by Kim Jong-un or done on his behalf, North Korea would have publicized its attack domestically, which it hasn’t. The Cheonan, a South Korean warship, was sunk on March 26, with the loss of 46 of its sailors, in what is believed to have been a torpedo attack by North Korea.

“The Cheonan incident should be understood in the context that the power clique in Pyongyang wants to maintain North Korea’s isolation and closed society, and therefore their own power,” said the source.


By Lee Young-jong [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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