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Controversy over North Korea’s successor



Russian experts disagree with reports that North Korea has launched a personality cult campaign of the successor to the incumbent leader, Kim Jong-un. The Japanese daily Asahi says that Pyongyang has made the country’s citizens hang the photos of the third son of Kim Jong Il.


The foreign mass media drew attention to young Kim Jon-un in September when he visited China together with his father. This was the beginning of his rise to the leadership of North Korea. Kim Jong-un was included in the leadership of the ruling party and the army and was promoted to a four-star General. All this has prompted people to describe him as the successor to the incumbent leader. Observers note that his photos will appear in each and every North Korean house as a way of strengthening his grip. However, an expert at the Institute of the Russian Far East Konstantin Asmolov insists on not making hasty conclusions.

“The Japanese mass media releases disinformation from time to time and is trying to maintain a balance between real and false reports,” says Konstantin Asmolov. Consequently, one has to wait until these reports are confirmed by other sources. In fact, one has to bear in mind that it took 30 years for Kim Jong Il to ascend to power owing to a competition between him and the younger brother of Kim Il-sung. Consequently, no one should make hasty conclusions and link any change in North Korea with the immediate handing over of power,” Konstantin Asmolov said.

Meanwhile, the director of the Centre for Korean Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Vorontsov is skeptical about a report by the daily Asahi that photos of the successor are hanging in every house together with the photos of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong Il.

“No one will see two photos – Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong Il – anywhere in North Korea, and there is no monument to Kim Jong Ir,” says Alexander Vorontsov. “The incumbent leader is quite simple and reserved. There was a time when two photos were hanging. He decided to remove his photo from all public places, and since then one can see only the photo of Kim Il-sung everywhere. In these circumstances, making people put up a third photo is unrealistic because according to definition, he cannot be the third. Moreover, it is problematic to hang the photo of a person who has not been officially appointed yet. There is no such tradition in North Korea,” Alexander Vorontsov said.

He also expressed disbelief in reports from Seoul that Kim Jong-un is heading a large-scale purge in the ruling party. Moreover, the report is based on an unknown organization called North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity. According to the Russian expert, Kim Jong-un is incapable of launching such a campaign independently because he is not the ruler and is making only the first steps towards the leadership.

Source: The Voice of Russia
Tags: political news
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