North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Were DPRK Diplos Informed of KJU Succession?

JoongAng Daily citing Free North Korea Radio reports that a message to the DPRK’s overseas embassies and foreign missions communicated the designation of Kim Jong-un [Eun] as Kim Jong-il’s hereditary successor.  Kim Sung-min of FNKR claimed he was informed of this communication by an anonymous source employed in a DPRK Embassy.  Mr. Kim claims that the communication was sent out on Monday (1 February) morning in time for the daily political meeting of embassy/mission personnel.

Kim Sung-min said the notices were sent yesterday morning. For about half an hour each weekday morning, Kim said, North Korean diplomats sit down to read from the government mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun and discuss policies of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Government instructions are delivered during these sessions, Kim explained. He also said it’s not often that the government issues instruction to all of its overseas missions. “This means that Kim Jong-un’s succession is essentially official,” he said. “It doesn’t seem as though the North government has delivered the news to its public. But it’s taking steps to do so.”

Kim Sung-min added that Kim Jong-un’s birthday, Jan. 8, has been designated as “the largest holiday of the nation” and a separate notice on it was also sent out to embassies.

There is no indication about when the communique about Kim Jong-un’s birthday was issued to DPRK embassies/foreign missions.  Was it issued ahead of 8 January 2010?  Or was it issued after the fact and the embassies and foreign missions will celebrate the auspicious date will celebrate the Morningstar Birthday in January 2011?

An enterprising Japanese blogger attempted to learn whether DPRK embassies were informed of Kim Jong-un’s birthday, and compelled to hold celebrations:

On the 7th, I talked with a North Korean diplomat who is distantly related to Kim Jong Il. The first thing he said was, “We received no directives or notifications from Pyongyang at all. If an embassy is going to hold some celebration, there will usually be some report for it.” He was doubtful that any celebration would be held on the 8th.


I went to the North Korean embassy in the 14th District of Vienna on the 8th because I thought I might be able to see some special activities there. When celebrations are held on Kim Jong Il’s birthday (16 February) and Kim Il Sung’s birthday (15 April), the main gate of the embassy is open, and the parking lot is open for guests. The lights in the courtyard are turned on, and the diplomats wear formal attire. But on the 8th, the embassy was quiet, the main gate closed, and the parking lot was taken over by embassy cars. In other words, the likelihood of a celebration being held within the embassy was practically nil.

The blogger later contacted a relative of an embassy employee who informed him that no celebration or commemoration of Kim Jong-un’s birthday took place on 8 January.  Readers may recall the DPRK Embassy in Vienna is manned by Kim Kwang-sop, who is married to Kim Jong-il’s half-sister Kim Kyong-chin.  This group of expatriate North Koreans may be in a position to disregard directives about the Moringstar General’s Birthday, or at least inclined so to do.

To add further to this puzzle, there was a report that in March 2009 Jang Song-thaek traveled to three (3) European cities.  During this trip, it was alleged Mr. Jang conducted small meetings of DPRK Ambassadors and foreign mission personnel where he informed them of the succession decision.  Then again, in the 1970’s Mr. Jang and his wife were responsible for staffing newly constituted embassies, and this could well have been a matter of Mr. Jang checking in with his people.

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This article was written on 02 Feb 2010, and is filled under Administration Department, Jang Song-thaek, Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, leadership succession, succession.

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