North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong-un Propaganda Moves in Mysterious Ways

DailyNK published two (2) English Language reports (see here and here) regarding the the Is he?/Isn’t he? status of rumored hereditary successor Kim Jong-unDNK has actually been rather skeptical about the Kim Jong-un successor rumors, and to its credit held off from conveying the rumors and half-baked speculation about the the Captain of Paektu.  According to their sources, a pattern has emerged whereby memos are floated and indoctrination sessions held to boost the young Mr. Kim’s profile and a few months later another memo is issued through the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department [PAD] advising the campaigns to slow down or cease altogether.  The last reported memo issued demanding the succession campaign quiet down came early this month.

Last weekend, saw the performance of two (2) songs that may be associated with the Kim Jong-un succession campaign, “Sound of the General’s Footsteps” and “Chollima of Songun Korea Runs at Full Gallop.”  So, it is difficult to determine what qualifies (or not) as muting the succession campaign.  One reason cited by Daily NK is that the propaganda drive in support of Captain Kim is that the campaign is more intense than that which ushered in Kim Jong-il’s succession.  This may be true from an internal perspective, but by the mid-1970’s propaganda media targeted to an external audience, particularly books, were attributing things to the (pick your descriptive) creative/imaginative/innovative/glorious Party Center.

There is another problem with the succession campaign, also conveyed by Daily NK and in previous reports from other sources, which is that it is may well be eclipsing General-Secretary Kim’s power.  Kim Jong-un has been reported to have begun a process of installing his own loyalists into certain Party and State positions in coordination with Organization and Guidance Department Senior Deputy Director Ri Je-gang.  There is also an account that Kim Jong-un has convened a small working group studying how the DPRK can initiate some economic policy reforms and engage with the Western world.  This summer a report emerged that Kim Jong-un may have crossed a bridge too far when he attempted to install his own loyalists into key positions in the Guard Command.  While General-Secretary Kim may have tolerated shuffling Provincial Party Committee bosses or mid-level management changes, the Guard Command is under his direct control.  Kim Jong-il may also be establishing boundaries on how a possible hereditary succession will proceed, and may not appreciate his son displacing the control and reporting channels in place.   General-Secretary Kim may also be send a signal to his son, his son’s loyalists and Pyongyang watchers that hereditary succession is not certain.


This article was written on 21 Nov 2009, and is filled under Jang Song-thaek, Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, leadership succession, Propaganda, succession.

An affiliate of 38 North