North’s succession will be rocky, says report

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North’s succession will be rocky, says report

Since the public debut of Kim Jong-un as chosen successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, there has been speculation that the succession process itself could be tumultuous because of Kim Jong-un’s youth and inexperience.

According to a yearly report from the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), there could be conflict and a scramble for power among the North’s elite in 2011 if Kim Jong-il steps down or dies.

Kim Jong-il’s third son, Kim Jong-un, sensing a threat to his future leadership, could act to stabilize his ascension this year by taking powerful roles in the Politburo of the North’s Workers’ Party and the National Defense Commission, the report said.

There is a also a strong chance he could order that those who stand in his way be eliminated.

The report said that North Korea’s biggest goal for this year would be to ensure Kim Jong-un’s ascension to power, which could mean another attack on the South.

“Kim Jong-un’s status within the government is not firm .?.?. there is a chance he will order another military provocation like the Yeonpyeong Island shelling, thinking that the only way to show ‘excellent competence’ is through military recklessness,” it said.

The attack on Yeonpyeong meant that North Korea abandoned any hope of productive dealings with the Lee Myung-bak administration, the report said, adding that Pyongyang would attempt to influence the presidential election of 2012 by “striking fear of war into the people’s hearts.”

Northeast Asia would also be subject to tension because of conflicting opinions in the U.S. and China on how to deal with North Korea, the report said.

The six-party talks, too, are in jeopardy because South Korea and the U.S. are adamant the talks not be reconvened until North Korea shows sincerity.

According to KINU, North Korea will use provocation to continue its strained ties with South Korea and to steer the situation in its direction.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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