Hidden Meanings and Determining Factors of the North Korean Succession
ASIA FORUM with Lee Seung Yeol
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Unification at Ewha Womans University, Seoul
Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 10:00-11:30
North Korea appointed Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, to the position of vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) at the 3rd Convention of Party Representative on September 28, 2010. Just one day earlier, he was promoted to the rank of four-star General, of the North Korean People’s Army.
This succession is very different from his father’s. Firstly, the legitimacy of Kim Jong-un’s succession is based on blood ties, whereas the legitimacy of Kim Jong-il was established by his loyalty to the great leader, Kim Il-sung. Secondly, the leadership system of Kim Jong-un is based on the ‘Songun (Military First policy)’ whilst Kim Jong-il’s leadership system was ‘party’ based. Third, a critical factor for Kim Jong-un’s succession depends on the level of opening up of its daily-market system, whereas previously the Juche idea had been used by Kim Jong-il in order to gain people’s support. These differences will play a pivotal role in the success or failure of Kim Jong-un. The hidden meanings of the succession will be explained, and potential problems which could occur, with reference to the above three differences, in the course of the power shift will also be discussed.
Lee Seung Yeol is a Senior Research Fellow at Ewha Womans University Institute for Unification, specialized in the succession of North Korean Politics. He earned a doctoral degree at North Korean Studies in 2009. His book, Kim Jong-il’s Choice, was published in 2009. His academic articles are “Study on the Change of Suryoung System and the Structural Limitation of the 3rd Succession” (North Korean Studies Review, 2009) and “Analysis on the Three Determinants of the Succession System in North Korea: focused on the Path- Dependency”(North Korean Studies Review, 2010) and “Analysis on the ‘Sanction’ and ‘Negotiation’ for solving North Korea’s Nuclear Problem (Peace Studies Review, 2010).
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