Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Last week, Nam Sung-wook, an expert on the DPRK Leadership who is an adviser to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, gave a lecture in Seoul where he contended that Kim Jong-un’s succession was put in the slow lane, based on Mr. Kim having interfered with personnel matters in the internal security apparatus. Yonhap News Agency has two stories that would seem to contradict Mr. Nam’s lecture. Sam Kim cites an anonymous South Korean official who says that Kim Jong-un’s succession may be finalized and announced next year. Sam Kim is a great journalist, but this report seems like a re-run of previous reports, citing common medical knowledge about strokes and relying on analysis on guidance tour photographs as a reliable indicator of Kim Jong-il’s health. This report seems to be dual use. It refutes Nam Sung-wook’s analysis about the muting of the succession. And commenting about General-Secretary Kim’s health will certainly raise the dander of the Pyongyang power center. This report appears after of one bi-lateral meeting between the US and DPRK, and in advance of Ambassador Bosworth meeting the DPRK as the means for resuming the Six Party Talks. This could be the Lee Administration venting its frustrations with the US and China in the Six Party Talk flotsam and jetsam, as well as lukewarm reception to the “Grand Bargain” and resorting to litigating these vital issues on and off the media record.
Kim Hyun belatedly located the Korean character for “Footsteps” on a banner of a choir performance during General-Secretary Kim’s guidance visit to the North Hwanghae Provincial Art Theater. This may indicate something about Kim Jong-un’s succession or maybe the song is just that infectious. The report also reported the presence of Kim Kyong-hui at this guidance tour, which I had completely missed, despite posting the photo below. One thing Pyongyang watchers do know: Yonhap is sticking to its Kim Jong-un story.