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The Grim Political World of Succession

Jeong Jae Sung  |  2011-08-17 18:03
In North Korea, the tide of repression is high. Investigation teams formed from elite military units have been dispatched, and even their name, Storm, appears designed to generate fear in local residents. The units and their investigations deliver a constant diet of warnings to those who might wish to drift out of line; arrests, imprisonments, domestic exile, executions. And whenever these investigations are mentioned by sources, one name is mentioned along with them: Kim Jong Eun.

Around the time that Kim first emerged onto the North Korean political stage some time in 2009, increasingly extreme policy choices started being made. Most famous was the currency redenomination of November 30th the same year, which deprived the people of their fiscal resources. Then, last year, there were two large provocations against South Korea. This year has seen maximum effort applied to bringing the border region under control with the dispatch of the infamous 'Storm Trooper Units'.

South Korean intelligence actually suggests that Kim Jong Eun has been at the top of the National Security Agency since the middle of 2009, something which the appearance of official edicts in his name also seems to bear out.

Kim is certainly operating in an official capacity as second in command of the Chosun Workers Party Central Military Commission, and is also General Kim, having been handed the title back in 2010. Since taking on these powers, he has also been addressing the task of getting his people into key positions; Kim Pyeong Hae, Choi Ryong Hae, Pak Do Chun and Woo Dong Cheuk are all core Kim Jong Eun supporters.

From the beginning, Kim Jong Eun has been issuing repressive political measures such as controls over defectors and the border," Cheong Seong Chang of the Sejong Institute agrees.

The effects of the failure of the currency redenomination and other measures have put support for Kim Jong Eun at low ebb, and until he obtains some degree of support from the people he will continue with these repressive measures, Cheong believes.

Meanwhile, Sohn Gwang Joo of the Gyeonggi Research Institute believes that the current situation is not yet even as bad as it could be.

The present Kim Jong Eun regime cannot hold a candle to the Kim Jong Il succession. Therefore, it seems that the recent controls are an attempt to get Kim Jong Il to recognize Kim Jong Euns ability, Sohn explains, adding, In a situation where the phenomenon of systemic loosening is gaining speed due to deepening economic troubles, to Kim Jong Eun, domestic regulation appears to be a way to get his fathers trust, and of course create the basis for his rule.
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