October 01, 2010 10:16
North Koreans at home and abroad were largely dismayed when leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un made his first public appearance on Thursday after being appointed vice chairman of the Workers Party's Central Military Commission.
"Of course, the regime had been expected to push for a third-generation power succession. But I'd never thought that it would let Kim Jong-un make a public appearance so soon," a former senior North Korean government official who defected to the South said. "It seems the regime has more or less established him as the successor to the leadership."
According to a former senior North Korean party official who also defected, the regime followed a drawn-out procedure when power was transferred from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il. "It appears that Kim Jong-il is near death given that he allowed his son to make his first public appearance so quickly."
After looking at Kim Jong-un's photos the North's official Rodong Sinmun released on Thursday, a female North Korean defector said, "How brazen-faced he looks! What did he eat to get so fat, while people are starving to death?"
"North Korean students and intellectuals had hoped that the dictatorial system would collapse when Kim Jong-il dies," another defector said. "But their dream of change has been blown away due to Kim Jong-un's appearance."
Meanwhile, North Koreans were apparently perplexed to see Kim junior suddenly appear. Quoting a North Korean, Free North Korea Radio on Wednesday said, "Seven North Koreans who happened to stay in a guard's room at their workplace were dumfounded when they heard the news that Kim Jong-un was promoted to four-star Army general."
Radio Free Asia in the U.S. on Thursday quoted a North Korean military officer as saying that soldiers there are skeptical about the succession. They had accepted Kim Jong-il without much difficulty when he was promoted to supreme commander because his personality cult had been built up for a long time. But in Jong-un's case they wonder what the 20-something has done to become a four-star general?
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