North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong-un's Footsteps May Cause Headaches

Kim Jong-un

The Japanese media featured two (2) stories relating to the possible hereditary succession of Kim Jong-un.  TBS Television cited a communication issued to DPRK Embassies that said, “We must pursue our mission under the guidance of General-Secretary Kim Jong-il.  We have to devote ourselves to carrying out a mission of opening the gate of a powerful state in 2012 for the time being.”  Also of interest are attempts to make Wonsan the DPRK’s second major city because it is alleged this is where Kim Jong-un spent much of his youth.   It also reported that a change has been made to the Kim Jong-un hymn “Footsteps” that substitutes a veiled reference to the young Mr. Kim for a reference to Kim Jong-il.  It also notes, “there has been no change to the decision to naming Kim Jong-un as the successor, but the General-Secretary place a restraint on the succession, out of concern Kim Jong-un would get too much attention, then power might become divided.”

An undated photo of Kim Jong-il when he was in his 20's.

Meanwhile NHK broadcasted a story that as far back as June of this year, Kim Jong-un’s birth year has been taken back by one or two years so that his official birth year will appear as 1982.  This would make Kim Jong-un 30 years old in 2012, the year ofkangson taeguk. This would chronologically align him with his grandfather, the late DPRK President Kim Il-sung who was born in 1912 and Kim Jong-il’s contrived birth year of 1942 (even though General-Secretary Kim was born in 1941).  Not only three generations, but three symmetrical generations at that.  Another note about 1982: it was the first year Kim Jong-il took on a State position when he was seated as a deputy to the 7th Supreme People’s Assembly.

Chosun Ilbo features a brief write-up of the NHK story which will have to suffice because I currently can not find the link to the video of the story.

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  1. adamcathcart
    December 14, 2009

    Open Radio North Korea had a couple of rather interesting pieces last week on this story…potentially interesting.

    http://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/reformist-flirtations-and-successor-politics-kcna-tropes/

    Maybe I am misreading Kanggye as a stronghold for the elite in the event of total anarchy, but I did find it interesting that your man Jang Song-thaek also made it up there. Does he have any special connection to the armaments factories in Jagang?

    • nkleadershipwatch
      December 14, 2009

      I have seen the KJU working group reports in other reports. But the reports I have seen also say Kim Jong-il has ordered these working groups disbanded.

      Jagang is one of the DPRK’s major production locales for the Second Economic Committee, as are parts of North Pyongan–which would explain why these provinces have access to the resources they do, and what they seem to be thriving (in a relative sense). I should say the physical pathways of North Korean elites escaping are placed throughout the country.

      W/re Mr. Jang; Jang Song-thaek most likely has two or three personal ties to the movers and shakers in the DPRK’s military-defense industry. As a National Defense Commissioner, he also theoretically has some oversight–but the munitions industry is not Mr. Jang’s bag. Mr. Jang’s primary concerns are internal security and political patronage (as well as singing–he’s got quite the set of pipes on him), so his concerns over a given Jagang 2EC factory are what SSD/MSC/MPS spies are on the payroll, and whether he can install one of his cohort’s loyalist’s in a second-tier job.

      I am finishing up a product which will chart in exhaustive (and exhausting) detail KJI’s public appearances in 2009, and whether his presences is reported or not, Mr. Jang has seldom left KJI’s side this year.

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This article was written on 11 Dec 2009, and is filled under Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, leadership succession, succession.

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