Kim Jong-il's Death 'Could Lead to Power Struggle'

      July 13, 2009 09:51

      Jang Song-taek

      A power struggle could erupt in North Korea following the death of leader Kim Jong-il between his son and heir apparent Jong-un and his brother-in-law, intelligence services here speculate. The National Intelligence Service told a recent session of the National Assembly Jang Song-taek, the purported No. 2 man in North Korea, director of the Workers' Party administrative department and member of the National Defense Commission, will lead a power struggle.

      The NIS said it seems certain that power in North Korea will be handed down to a third generation to Kim Jong-un. But that is expected to result in a weak power structure given Kim Jong-il's current ill health and unstable political and economic factors in the regime. Chances are that Jang and his followers could try to seize power from Kim Jong-un and his faction, it speculated.

      Jang is currently helping smooth Kim junior's succession to power but apparently supported Kim's eldest son Jong-nam for the leadership at first.

      The NIS said another possibility in case Kim dies before the succession has been firmly cemented is a collective leadership of party and military.

      The NIS points at Kim Kyong-hui, Jang's wife and the Kim senior's younger sister, as another guardian of Kim junior.

      It says Kim Kyong-hui stopped engaging in public activities after September 2003, when she was head of the Workers' Party light industry department. She had treatment for hypochondria and alcoholism. An NIS official said, "Kim Kyong-hui has been playing the role as a guardian for Kim Jong-un since she resumed her public activities as director of a party department on June 7."

      The NIS predicts that Kim Jong-un will officially be declared his father's successor in 2012, the year North Korea has designated as the start of building a "powerful nation," in the latest slogan. It said it will take some time to formalize the succession given Kim Jong-un's lack of political experience and problems at home and abroad.

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