Posted by: B Gourley | January 16, 2009

Kim Jong Il Successor?

477px-kim-jong-il_portraitA South Korean news agency, Yonhap, reported yesterday that Republic of Korea (RoK) intelligence sources believe that Kim Jong Il selected his successor  on January 8th.

 If true, Kim Jong Un, the dictator’s third son and youngest son, would be the next successor to the Kim dynasty. According to Merrily Baird, a former CIA analyst and expert on North Korea’s leadership, Jong Un is a son by a woman named Ko Yong Hui to whom Kim Jong Il is not beleived to be married.

Of course, the selection of a successor does not necessarily mean anything in and of itself. Kim Jong Il was appointed to succeed his father in 1974, 20 years before Kim Il Song passed away. That appointment was carried out  without any formal announcement being made, just as there are no reports from the Central Korean News Agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to corroborate the the succession appointment. So it is unclear whether this news, if accurate, has any great significance. However, indications of Kim Jong Il’s poor health does lead one to wonder what this might mean for the future of North Korea and the region more generally.

According to the Yonhap story, Jong Un is only 25 years old, was educated abroad, and is a fan of NBA basketball. Kim Jong Un is believed -like his father- to have diabetes , but, given his youth, this is not as likely to prove fatal in the near term as might be a power struggle. Presuming that Kim Jong Il is not long for this world, Jong Un would come to power at about half the age that his father did and about seven years younger than his father was when the elder Kim was selected to succeed. Jong Un will not have established himself as a rightful heir through many years in positions of power. The fact that there are two older sons, though  to women to which the dictator is not believed to have been married (the women he married bore him daughters), could also make Jong Un’s transition more challenging than his father’s (who was an eldest son.)

It will be interesting to see whether Kim Jong Un will be able to take and maintain the mantle of power, and what that would mean for Korea and the region. Of course, I would not expect any great changes in North Korea regardless of whether Kim Jong Il passes on and who succeeds. Even if Kim Jong Un were inclined to be a reformer, this would likely antagonize many people in key positions. (i.e. When you are involved in as despicable a regime as that of Kim Jong Il, more power for the people may mean a rope around your neck.) However, whoever or whatever (e.g. the military) assumes leadership in the DPRK may radically increase regional stability if they can merely reduce the government’s penchant for crisis bargaining (i.e. that common trait Kim Jong Il stratagem of conducting provocative maneuvers such as  missile and nuclear weapons tests or quiting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] as attempted negotiating strategies.)


  1. Kim is used to making a big show of politics, after all he started off as a filmmaker:

  2. i ahve some information on Kim Jong Un if you want.
    He went to my school, the international school of Berne, switzerland. I still go there now, i was in kindergarten when he left in 1998.
    i do not know if it was known who he was, but i am sure if i ask my teachers that have been here for a while they can give some information.
    He always had a undercover bodyguard with him, the bodyguard was disguised as a student.
    He also had friends that were the children of people working for the american ambassy.

    it was quite interesting to find out that he went to my school, and that i was there when he was.

    i hope any info helps.

  3. The end time is near… all the things will…
    North Corea, Isreal, Iran
    Jesus go rush…

    • If humans are not careful they will become extinct, endtime fantasies are a denial of our mortality as a species. Do you realize how stupid you sound when you write that shit? I know, lets pollute the environment, go to war and destroy ourselves because Jesus will come and make everything better. Wake the fuck up!

  4. […] If you are looking for Kim Jong Il’s Successor click here. […]

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