The Honorable General's Three Sons Were Born of Concubines

[Analysis] The reason for the ban on mentioning Kim Jong Il's prospective successor
Han Young Jin, Reporter, Defector from Pyongyang  |  2006-01-08 13:57
[imText1]According to North Korean news sources, Kim Jong Il recently banned his people from mentioning his prospective successor. He ordered that those who mention who will be his successor be punished severely because it would appear ridiculous to the outer world to hear about the three-generation succession to power.

Why did that happen?

Choi Yeong Soo (56, pseudonym for his protection) is a resident of Pyongyang. He came to China to visit his relatives recently. He said, "Nowadays there is public curiosity in North Korea as to who will be the next Dear Leader inheriting the power from Kim Jong Il. Moreover, among those who have access to news from outside, it is frequently said that Kim Jong Il's three sons were born by concubines."

The channels of outside news to North Koreans are foreign radio programs that North Koreans listen to stealthily and those who make frequent business trips to foreign countries. A few day ago, Kim Jong Il said that enemies were speaking ill of the revolutionary chief executives (Kim Jong Il and his prospective successors) concerning the matter of choosing the successor. Kim Jong Il's statement seems to have been triggered by outside news.

It is possible that choosing a successor could end in failure if rumors of successors spread throughout North Korea. North Korean authorities treat succession matters as top secret.

Kim Jong Il thinks it is possible to hand down his power to a successor in the same way that he inherited the power from Kim Il Sung in the 70's by propagandizing the Kim Il Sung family's personality cult. It seems that Kim Jong Il is cautious lest the rumors of his sons' births degrade his and his successor's dignity before he chooses the successor.

In response to the question of who would be the successor, Mr Choi said North Koreans anticipate one of Kim Jong Il's sons to take the leadership.

Hereditary power transmission is certain

It seems to be certain that North Korea will see another hereditary power transmission. However, it is unknown who will succeed to power as well as how and when. Kim Jong Cheol, the second son, is said to be the most probable, but there is nothing assured yet and moreover, no propaganda has been made for him yet.

The ban on mentioning Kim Jong Il's successor seems to have resulted from the following reasons: it is not the time to talk about Kim Jong Il's successor because Kim Jong Il (63) is so healthy, and choosing a successor now may bring about political disturbance.

Discord and confrontation within the power can occur once the successor is chosen. During the process of nominating Kim Jong Il as the successor in the 70's, the former anti-Japanese partisans such as Kim Il, Lim Choon Choo, Oh Jin Oo, and Choi Hyun strongly supported Kim Jong Il and enjoyed much glory, but those who opposed him suddenly vanished into thin air. Thus it is possible for succession matters to result in a bloody purge again.

On the third day of January, in 1992, Kim Jong Il made an announcement about the historical teachings of building socialism and the general political line of the Chosun Workers' Party. In the announcement, he criticized Gorbachev as the turncoat of revolution and claimed that the success of the revolution depended upon the choice of the successor to power. The announcement meant that the successor must be strongly loyal to the Chieftain and have a formidable will for the revolution, which in turn meant that hereditary power transmission was the right choice.
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