North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Party Conference to Be Jong Un’s Quiet Succession?

Kim Jong Un may be elected to the Party Central Committee at the 3rd Party Conference in September

The 3rd Party Conference (which may occur from 6 to 9 September) may be one event facilitating the hereditary succession system of Kim Jong Un (Kim Ch’ong-u’n; Kim Jong Eun).  Anonymous sources told Kyodo News that Kim Jong Il’s youngest son could be elected a member of the Party (KWP) Central Committee.  Kyodo also reports that Jong Un’s uncle, NDC Vice Chairman and CC KWP Administration Director Jang Song Thaek, may be elected to the Party Political Bureau (Politburo).  Kim Jong Un’s complete accession may not be complete until 2012.  It is possible that the Party Conference will be a low-key affair in terms of domestic media coverage, and that Jong Un’s advancement will go unannounced, given Kim Jong Il’s instruction to keep the succession on the “quiet” side.

Jang Song Thaek may be elected to the Political Bureau at the 3rd Party Conference in September, 2010. (Photo: KCNA)

A propaganda official is shown teaching the lyrics of "Footsteps" on a cooperative farm. Kim Jong Il had ordered that performing the song be halted to make the hereditary succession campaign less obstrusive (KCNA)

Kyodo reports:

It is believed that at the meeting Kim Jong Un will be elected as a member of the party’s Central Committee. He is also expected to be elected as a member of the party’s Political Bureau Presidium at a Central Committee general meeting, which is to be held shortly after the gathering of core delegates, the sources said.

Jang Song Thaek, director of the Administration Department of the Central Committee, is also likely to be elected as a member of the Political Bureau Presidium at the Central Committee general meeting, according to the sources.

Currently, Kim Jong Il, 68, is the only member of the presidium.

Jang, the brother-in-law of Kim Jong Il who is believed to be a guardian of Kim Jong Un, was promoted to vice chairman of the National Defense Commission in June.

Even if Kim Jong Un joins the party leadership, it is highly unlikely that North Korea will announce such a move.

As the next step, the sources said, the party is expected to convene a congress — its top decision-making forum — in 2012 and Kim Jong Un is likely to be officially appointed as Kim Jong Il’s successor then.

A party congress has not been held since the 6th session in 1980, at which Kim Jong Il made an official debut as successor to the country’s founder, his father Kim Il Sung.

North Korea has set a goal of ”opening the gate to a great, prosperous and powerful socialist nation” in 2012, the centenary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.

While Kim Jong Un is expected to strengthen his standing at the party in the coming years, he is believed to be trying to build an unshakable power base by winning loyalty from the military.

"Greet the conference of the Workers' Party of Korea as an auspicious event which will shine forever in the history of our party and country!" (Photo: KCNA)

Shin Joo Hyun writes about an analysis of DPRK media in Daily NK:

Rodong Shinmun, it explained, employed the phrase “the Party Center” in its June 30th edition for the first time in 16 years, while Chosun People’s Army employed it in a particularly prominent manner on May 15th.

In that edition of the publication, a three verse song entitled “Let’s defend the Party Center with our lives!” was featured alongside a full-page image of the marching military. This song, which conveys a sense of the absolute need to preserve Kim Jong Il’s safety at any cost, spread throughout society and the military during the 1980s after Kim Jong Il was publicly announced as the official successor to Kim Il Sung at the Workers’ Party Congress of October, 1980.

In the same issue, Chosun People’s Army reminded readers what Kim Jong Il had himself emphasized, “The People’s Army should continue to hold on to the slogan, ‘Defend the Party Center with our lives,’ as we did in the past.”

Ponghwa-ri, a town in Kangdong County, Pyongyang, which is home to one revolutionary historic site is also reportedly the locale for a historic site dedicated to Kim Jong Un (Google Earth)

Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the 6th Party Congress in October 1980. The Party Congress was Kim Jong Il's public introduction and confirmation as successor to Kim Il Sung (Photo: Foreign Languages Publishing/KCNA)

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