North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jong Un’s Stripes

Kim Jong Un, when he attended the International School of Berne

Kim Jong Un was once described as being one of the darlings of the Korean People’s Army general-grade officers.  Perhaps on the road to succession, the generals’ affections for the Morningstar General has waned.  Perhaps the KISMU alum was resting on his KPA laurels, particularly in a year when the regime has emphasized the KWP (albeit, I tend to find KPA-KWP cleavages overstated)  US Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates,  believes that in this “year of great change” Kim Jong Un  may have something to prove:

North Korea’s attack on a South Korean warship is part of its succession strategy as leader Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, seeks support from the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.

Speaking at the Marines’ Memorial Theater in San Fransisco Thursday, Gates said, “One of the main worries I have about North Korea is that they appear to be starting a succession process, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Kim Jong-il’s son, who wants to take over, has to earn his stripes with the North Korean military,” according to a transcript released Friday by the Defense Department.

The chief U.S. defense official said, “My worry is that that’s behind a provocation like the sinking of the Cheonan. So I think we’re very concerned that this may not be the only provocation from the North Koreans.”

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This article was written on 14 Aug 2010, and is filled under Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, Korean People's Army (KPA), Korean Workers' Party (KWP), leadership succession, succession.

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