Children of inner circle in North get powerful jobs

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Children of inner circle in North get powerful jobs

North Korean leadership is showing it favors loyalty as well as bloodlines in its appointments of high-level officials.

Children of former communist guerillas and current government officials in North Korea were appointed to high-ranking positions, rising as a new inner circle that apparently will shore up heir Kim Jong-un’s regime, a source familiar with North Korean affairs said yesterday.

The former guerillas who fought against Japan during colonization supported late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the 1970s, when Kim was in a power battle with his uncle Kim Yong-ju.

Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song-thaek is now regarded as a key power broker, but in the 1970s, Kim Jong-il’s uncle Yong-ju was also emerging as the next leader after founder Kim Il Sung.

However, the former guerillas strongly backed Jong-il and purged the uncle, who didn’t abide by the juche, or self-reliance, ideology. The guerrilla circle was all later promoted to high-ranking posts by Kim Jong-il, praised as “angels shielding the dear leader.”

Now, their children, who are mostly in their 60s or 70s, carried on their fathers’ influence and entered North Korean politics.

Including the powerful couple Jang Song-thaek and his wife Kim Kyong-hui, who is a daughter of the founder, eight children of former communist guerillas were anointed to high-ranking positions in the party at a parliamentary meeting in September 2010, which analysts say was convened to select a cabinet for successor Kim Jong-un.

Choe Ryong-hae, son of Choe Hyon who was former Minister of People’s Armed Forces, was named as a four-star general and a member of the ruling party’s Military Committee; O Il-jong, son of O Jin-u who was also former Minister of People’s Armed Forces, was also promoted to the party’s military director; O Kum-chol and O Chol-san, two sons of O Paek-ryong who was a former vice chairman of powerful National Defense Commission, were also hired as members of the ruling party.

Descendants of former or current government officials also took some influential working-level posts, such as vice minister or member of the party’s Central Committee, and they are expected to be promoted to the inner-circle in the next decades. The source says they are mostly in their 40s or 50s and enjoy a wide variety of benefits.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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