The North Korean succession struggle may not play out precisely as Kim Chong Il hoped it would:
South Korean and Japanese news media have reported that North Korea’s propaganda agencies have printed millions of pictures of Kim Jong Eun to be distributed to the homes of ordinary citizens, who already keep photos of the older Kims.
That the family is attempting another generational succession has become accepted wisdom among North Korea observers, but some have recently started to express doubts about the regime’s ability to pull it off. They point to a recent personnel exodus in a propaganda office that was believed to be working on Kim Jong Eun’s behalf and chatter among North Korean traders in China that the son, at age 26 or 27, is perceived by many people as too young to hold power.
“Kim Jong Il believes that the only way for him to maintain his power is to establish the hereditary succession of his son,” Kang Chol-hwan, a defector who wrote a book about growing up in a North Korean prison camp, wrote in South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper this week. “But it is doubtful the entire party agrees.”
I’d like to wrap this up with some pithy piece of predictive analysis, but I’ve got nothing.
Scary thing? I don’t think anyone else does, either.