Kim Jong-un, songun puppet
“Successor in North Korea Moves to Consolidate Power
A South Korean soldier monitored the North from a border post on Wednesday.
Published: December 21, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — The leadership of North Korea moved swiftly on Wednesday to portray Kim Jong-un, thrust into the international spotlight following the death of his father, as the country’s unchallenged ruler.
With the military’s allegiance a central question to the new leader’s success in consolidating power, North Korean television showed senior military leaders saluting the young Kim on Wednesday as he received mourners at the Kumsusan mausoleum, where his father lay in state inside a glass case for public viewing. State television repeatedly broadcast images of senior military leaders pledging their fealty to the son.
The South’s National Intelligence Service reported to the National Assembly that shortly after Mr. Kim’s death was announced on Monday, North Korean troops cancelled their field training and returned to the barracks on high alert, according to lawmakers who attended the agency’s closed-door briefing. The order to returns to the barracks was given under the name of Kim Jong-un and was issue before his father’s death was announced, an indication that he was in control of the North’s 1.2 million-strong military, the South’s national news agency, Yonhap, reported Wednesday, quoting an anonymous government source.
The spy agency also told the Parliament’s intelligence committee that security has been tightened in major cities across the country.
Analysts said that the rush to establish the young Kim’s leadership, while the nation was still grieving over his father’s death, was a signal of his vulnerability. “When Kim Il-sung died, talking about Kim Jong-il’s succession while the country was gripped in mourning was considered sacrilegious,” said Choi Jin-wook, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
If Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his 20s, is not able to consolidate power, he may become the figurehead of a collective leadership where the military and his uncle would emerge as power brokers. Jang Song-thaek, 65, the brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il, grew influential under Mr. Kim’s rule and was often cited as a possible regent for Kim Jong-un.
The first thing Kim Jong-il did when he unveiled his youngest son as heir last year was to give him two powerful military titles: four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. But his control over the hard-line People’s Army, whose influence has grown under his father’s songun, or “military-first” policy, remains untested, and some fear he might use tensions to establish his leadership credentials. The military was considered the most resistant to the idea of giving away the North’s nuclear weapons in return for outside aid.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the United States and South Korea made cautious overtures to the North. Despite longstanding frustrations over the North’s aggressions and its nuclear weapons program, both appeared focused on avoiding provocations during a delicate transition of power, signaling their readiness to engage with the emerging leadership when it was ready. Still, their expressions of sympathy have been directed to the North Korean people, not the government.
Seoul announced Wednesday that private organizations and individuals would be able to mail or fax condolences over the death of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader whose death was announced on Monday, including a foundation named after the late President Roh Moo-hyun, who held a summit meeting with Mr. Kim in 2007. That move will fill a diplomatic gap left open by the South’s decision not to send a government delegation to Mr. Kim’s funeral, as will its decision to allow attendance by the families of former President Kim Dae-jung and the former Hyundai chairman, Chung Mon-hun.
The State Department said American officials had met North Korean diplomats at the United Nations in New York to continue discussions opened in Beijing last week over possible food aid for the North, though nothing conclusive was expected immediately.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman of the State Department, said: “We’re going to have to keep talking about this. And given the mourning period, frankly, we don’t think we’ll be able to have much more clarity and resolve these issues before the new year.”
China, the North’s neighbor and main ally, has also been reaching out to the North. On Tuesday, President Hu Jintao went to the North Korean Embassy in Beijing to express condolences. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and four other members of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee followed suit.”
Via the New York Times