North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Morningstar General's Footsteps, Encore


AFP (Agence France Prese) has additional information concerning Nam Sung-wook’s lecture about Kim Jong-un’s succession being muted.  The AFP report goes on to say that Jang Song-thaek  “has also been sidelined for the time being. . .and is not seen in public as often as before.”  While I don’t ascribe a great deal of significance as to who populates Kim Jong-il’s travel parties, the latter statement is a bit baffling considering Mr. Jang is literally standing at General-Secretary Kim’s side on two of this week’s guidance outings.   And yet, this may explain why Jang Song-thaek did not appear on the Kim Il-sung memorial meeting list.  And yet, again, perhaps the distinguished Mr. Nam has been floated a bit of disinformation.  Jang Song-thaek was never an enthusiastic backer of the Morningstar General and he presents himself as too politically savvy to put his entire network in one basket.  2003 this is not.

Original Posting

VOA reports on a Seoul lecture by DPRK Leadership scholar Nam Sung-wook where Mr. Nam reported further about misgivings Kim Jong-il is having with possible successor Kim Jong-un.  This corroborates earlier reporting and analysis that young Mr. Kim had run afoul of powerful members of the DPRK security apparatus during the past summer.  As I had previously written, I do not think Kim Jong-un’s succession is a done deal.  What the DPRK has seemed to do is create mechanisms within its Party and State systems for succession to occur, regardless of who that successor turns out to be.  These are the intended means to avoid any power struggles that should arise in the event Kim Jong-il passes away or is permanently physically incapacitated.  Simply because something becomes conventional wisdom among the international chattering community does not make it a reality.  Until  Kim Jong-nam was moved by Disney magic to enter Japan on a fraudulent passport to visit the amusement park, the general consensus had him as General-Secretary Kim’s successor.  So, color me Lankovian on this matter.  Dr. Lankov penned an Asia Times essay that could provide any reader the appropriate organization and guidance to watch the succession enigma play out in the DPRK.


Jamestown Foundation published its monthly China Brief which is always useful reading.  Willy Lam publishes a summary on China’srecent, manic diplomatic activity with a paragraph devoted to Wen Jiabao’s trip to the DPRK.  It’s worth the read even if I find his conclusions to be a bit off the mark.  The pathway to the DPRK giving up its strategic weapons and nuclear programs goes through Beijing, whether external observers like it, or not, and what’s more I don’t see anyone stepping forward to offer any alternative, sensible solutions.


This article was written on 22 Oct 2009, and is filled under Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, leadership succession, Six Party Talks.

An affiliate of 38 North