Kim Jong-il's Son 'Set Up as Figurehead of Military Regime'

      June 29, 2010 11:16

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un was elected as a deputy to the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in March last year, a North Korean source in a Western country said on Monday. He has not so far been known to have been given any official post as the regime maneuvers him into position to succeed his father.

      The source quoted a North Korean official as saying that Kim Jong-un was nominally elected from Constituency No. 216. At the time, his name was not on the list of new deputies because the North tried to conceal his election, the source added.

      In March last year, defectors organizations said it seemed Jong-un was elected from this electoral district given that Kim Jong-il's birthday is Feb. 16 and that the published name of the deputy-elect from the district was "Kim Jong."

      This pointed to Jong-un since the name of Kim senior's eldest son Jong-nam was not on the list of deputies last year although it had been on similar lists in 1998 and 2003.

      Since March last year, the regime has reshuffled personnel at the top policy-making body, the National Defense Commission, at three SPA sessions, and has also conducted a large-scale reshuffle of the Cabinet.

      A South Korean security official said a massive restructuring of the North Korean Workers Party is expected to take place under Kim Jong-un's leadership if he is officially given a party post at an extraordinary party congress in September.

      The 3 million party members are a key asset on his road to power. "No North Korean media stories hinted at the succession until November 2008," when Kim Jong-il partially recovered from a stroke. "But around summer last year, North Korean elementary schools were teaching children the official propaganda song for the heir apparent," the source said.

      The source said the North is effectively under a collective leadership, and the "military-first" ideology shows that it no longer is a one-man dictatorship. "After Kim Jong-il's death, there will emerge a collective military leadership, which will probably put up Kim Jong-un as a figurehead," the source added.

      The source said some kind of deal seems to have been done in late 2008 whereby hardliners accepted the heir Kim Jong-il in return for Kim's agreement to ratcheting up political tensions on the peninsula. "Kim Jong-il's status will continue to weaken until he dies," according to the source.

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