June 25, 2010 13:13
North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong-il is speeding up the transfer of power to his son Jong-un, intelligence suggests.
"There is intelligence information indicating Kim Jong-un accompanied Kim Jong-il on an inspection tour last week to North Pyongan Province," a South Korean government official said Thursday. "One thing that is certain is that posters lauding Jong-un were hung in the factory Kim Jong-il toured."
On Saturday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency broadcast Kim's "on-the-spot-guidance" tour of a factory in Sinuiju showing posters urging North Koreans to "match footsteps" with their leader's "self-sacrifices for CNC." The official said the word "footsteps" has been used since last year only in reference to the succession. "Footsteps" is also the title of a song praising Kim Jong-un. The song, which was distributed at Kim Jong-il's orders last year, repeatedly uses the phrase "Captain Kim" for Jong-un. And a North Korean film reel depicting Kim Jong-il's birthday celebrations on Feb. 16 shows the North Korean leader at a performance of the song.
"CNC," which stands for "computer numerical control," is also a peculiar code for Kim Jong-un. A Unification Ministry official said the term CNC "is used to convey something new and young and suggests the rise of the new leader Kim Jong-un." North Korea has been touting the importance of cutting-edge technology and has been pushing the widespread implementation of computer-automated production technology. Kim Jong-il's field inspections target factories that have embraced "CNC" technology. "This trend became apparent after Kim Jong-un was tapped as heir last year," the official said. "It is interesting to see North Korea using foreign terminology, which it usually detests."
National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon told a closed-door National Assembly committee meeting Thursday a large-scale campaign is under way to hail and praise Kim Jong-un. Won added that North Korea has been publicizing songs and poems praising Jong-un and holding poem-recital contests. Kim junior has been accompanying his father on field inspections and widening the scope of his policy reach. Currently in a job with the powerful National Defense Committee, Jong-un has apparently exercised his influence in promoting high-ranking officials at the Workers Party.
The latest moves to consolidate support for Kim Jong-un differ from those seen last year. Kim senior apparently told officials to slow things down last year, even prohibiting performances of the song "Footsteps," after some high-ranking officials appeared overly zealous in their support for his son. For a while, North Korea refrained from sending out information regarding Jong-un, due to fear that playing up the heir "might send out signals that something is wrong with Kim Jong-il's health," according to Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-hyun.
But intelligence officials believe this has all changed. They say it is very unusual to see Kim Jong-il attend a performance on his own birthday praising his son and for posters lauding Jong-un to appear in a factory he is visiting. The intelligence chief said the reason is probably Kim Jong-il's deteriorating health. "The side effects of his stroke, including a limp and paralysis of his left arm, remain," Won said. He added that Kim has started smoking and drinking again, worsening his condition. Another intelligence official said, "With preparations being sped up for the transfer of power, we may soon see Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un sharing power."
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