May 26, 2011 09:05
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been in China for six days, but his son and heir Jong-un has not been seen in public either in China or North Korea. He has disappeared from public view since press reports on May 4 said he attended the completion ceremony of an Army gymnasium.
Experts have been quick to speculate why. Ryu Dong-ryeol, a senior researcher at the Police Science Institute, offered this guess: "With his father away, Kim Jong-un is going through an important apprenticeship process in ruling the country. He's probably receiving reports from the party, the government, and the military and passing the important ones on to his father."
Prof. Nam Joo-hong of Kyonggi University agreed. "Kim Jong-un probably couldn't leave Pyongyang" since both his father and his uncle Jang Song-taek, who is believed to be the real power behind the throne, are in China.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs said, "Rumor had it that in 1982 Kim Jong-il accompanied his father Kim Il-sung and both met Deng Xiaoping, but Jong-il was scolded by his father for behaving arrogantly, and Kim senior traveled to China alone the next year. Kim Jong-il also has some misgivings about his son, so it seems he left him behind in Pyongyang."
A South Korean government official pointed out that the North Korean media have never reported on Kim Jong-un's solo activities but only when he accompanies his father, so it stands to reason that he flies under the radar if he remains behind in the North.
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