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Tag Archives: Kim Jong-Il

NKorean leader appears to be headed home

A man believed to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (2nd R) walks out of a hotel while surrounded by security guards before heading to a car convoy in Jilin, China, in this video frame grab provided by Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, NHK, August 27, 2010.

August 28, 2010

CHANGCHUN, China (KATAKAMI / AP)  – North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il apparently headed home Saturday after a secretive and surprise trip that reportedly included a meeting with China’s top leader to appeal for diplomatic and financial support for a succession plan involving his youngest son.

Reporters have followed a motorcade — apparently used by the reclusive Kim — around several cities in northeast China. The 35-vehicle convoy accompanied by police cars with flashing lights was seen headed to the train station in Changchun.

Kim rarely leaves North Korea and when he does he travels by special train. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the train left the station, although it did not give a destination.

North Korea does not announce Kim’s trips until he returns home, and China has refused to say if he is in the country, even though a Japanese television station had a grainy picture of him.

Kim was reportedly accompanied by his son, Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his 20s. Many North Korea watchers predict the son will be appointed to a key party position at a ruling Workers’ Party meeting early next month — the first such gathering in decades.

To pull off the event with sufficient fanfare, North Korea will need Chinese aid, particularly following the devastating floods that battered the country’s northwest this month, analysts said.

“The convention needs to be festive with the party giving out food or normalizing day-to-day life for its people, but with the recent flood damages they are not able to,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute think tank outside Seoul.

“The most important thing on Kim’s agenda is scoring Chinese aid, which will ensure that the meeting will be well received by the people.”

Asked whether Kim was visiting China, a duty officer with the press office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “China and North Korea consistently maintain high-level contacts. We will release the relevant information in good time.”

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sidestepped a question from his visiting Japanese counterpart about widespread reports saying Kim was visiting China, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Satoru Satoh said. Yang made no response to the query but said China will continue cooperating with Japan on the North Korea issue, Satoh said.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper and Yonhap both reported that Kim was believed to have met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Changchun on Friday.

The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper carried a similar report, saying the two are believed to have discussed the North’s succession, the resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, and ways to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation.

China, as North Korea’s biggest diplomatic ally and a major source of food aid and oil, would expect to be kept in the loop about major political transitions in the North, but the Beijing leadership is not likely to be enthusiastic about the prospect of another dynastic succession next door, said Zhu Feng, director of Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Kim also badly needs Chinese aid because of flooding earlier this month that damaged or destroyed more than 7,000 homes, and inundated 17,800 acres (7,200 hectares) of farmland close to the border with China, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported this week.

KCNA said China has already agreed to deliver some aid to help North Korea cope with the disaster but didn’t give specifics.

The North faces chronic food shortages and has relied on outside aid to feed much of its 24 million people since a famine that is believed to have killed as many as 2 million people in the 1990s.

In an attempt to improve its meager economy, it has experimented with limited market reforms and sought foreign investment, mostly from China and South Korea. But tensions with the South have caused trade and joint economic projects with the South to wither and raised the importance of Pyongyang’s ties to Beijing.



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Photostream : Mystery surrounds NKorean leader’s trip to China

Photostream : Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter leaving N. Korea with American Aijalon Gomes

Ex-US President Carter frees American from North Korea

A Chinese traffic police officer gestures to a resident who tried to past by a checkpoint into an area where North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is reported to be staying in Jilin, northeastern China’s Jilin province on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Kim is traveling to China, South Korea’s presidential office said Thursday, in what would be his second trip there this year. (Getty Images)

A limousine suspected of carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il leaves a hotel in the Chinese city of Jilin on August 27, 2010 where a delegation from North Korea, believed to include the reclusive state’s leader Kim Jong-Il, was reported to be staying. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on August 27 extended his tour of northeastern China on a trip seeking Beijing’s blessing for a succession of power to his son, media reports said. YTN TV said a convoy of some 30 cars carrying Kim and his entourage were seen leaving the Wusong Hotel in Jilin around 01:00 GMT and took a highway that leads to Changchun City. (Getty Images)

Residents are stopped from crossing into an area where North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is believed to be staying in Jilin, northeastern China’s Jilin province on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Kim is traveling to China, South Korea’s presidential office said Thursday, in what would be his second trip there this year. (Getty Images)

Government vehicles leave Wusong hotel, where reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is rumoured to be staying with his son, in Jilin city August 27, 2010. China remained silent on Friday about a reported visit by North Korea’s secretive leader Kim, with no official word on a trip analysts believe may be to line up Beijing behind his dynastic succession plans. (Getty Images)

A Chinese police officer stands guard on a hill top overlooking an area where North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is believed to be staying in Jilin, northeastern China’s Jilin province on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Kim is traveling to China, South Korea’s presidential office said Thursday, in what would be his second trip there this year. (Getty Images)

South Koreans watch a TV broadcasting file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, left, meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. News reports say North Korean leader Kim Jong Il may have traveled to China in what would be his second visit to the country this year. (Getty Images)

Government cars leave the Wusong hotel in Jilin city where reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is rumoured to be staying with his son, August 26, 2010. Kim is visiting powerful ally China possibly with his son and heir apparent, South Korean government sources said, ahead of a meeting next month that may settle Kim Jong-un’s succession. (Getty Images)

A vehicle that is believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the only vehicle in his convoy that is heavily tinted and armoured, travels towards Wusong hotel in Jilin city where Kim is rumoured to be staying with his son, August 26, 2010. Kim is visiting powerful ally China possibly with his son and heir apparent, South Korean government sources said on Thursday, ahead of a meeting that may settle Kim’s succession. (Getty Images)

A view of the Wusong Hotel where North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is reported to be staying in Jilin, northeastern China’s Jilin province on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. Kim is traveling to China, South Korea’s presidential office said Thursday, in what would be his second trip there this year. (Getty Images)

Reports: Kim’s youngest son is NKorea legislator

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An undated picture is believed to show North Korean leader’s son Kim Jong-Un in Berne.

AP

June 29, 2010

SEOUL, South Korea – The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il clandestinely became a parliament member last year, another sign he is being groomed to succeed his father, South Korean news reports said Tuesday.

South Korea’s main spy agency, however, quickly cast doubt on the reports.

It is widely believed that the 68-year-old Kim plans to hand power at some point to third son Kim Jong Un, though little is known about him. Speculation about the North’s succession plans has intensified since the senior Kim reportedly had a stroke in 2008.

He has led North Korea since 1994 upon his father’s death in a hereditary succession that was in the works for years and was the first in the communist world.

Kim Jong Un reportedly ran for a parliamentary seat in elections in March last year that were closely watched for any signs of a power shift in the secretive North. His name, however, was not on the list of Supreme People’s Assembly legislators, sparking speculation he may not have run or used an alias.

On Tuesday, the mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper quoted a high-level Western source knowledgeable about the North as saying that Kim Jong Un was elected in the rubber-stamp legislature’s Constituency No. 216. The source, who was not otherwise identified, said he obtained the information from unidentified North Koreans about two months after the vote, according to the newspaper.

Another national daily — the JoongAng Ilbo — carried a similar report, saying the comments would confirm that Kim has formally entered government service after being tapped as the North’s next leader.

A spokesman at South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said his organization believes there is a low probability the younger Kim became a member of parliament. The spokesman declined to elaborate on the agency’s opinion. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing agency policy.

JoongAng Ilbo also said the constituency No. 216 has a special meaning in North Korea as Kim Jong Il’s birthday falls on Feb. 16. It said the Western source spoke during a meeting Monday with journalists in Seoul.

The source said the North appeared to have deliberately hid the son’s election, according to Dong-a Ilbo.

The list of North Korea’s 687 parliamentary members that state media released after the elections included the name of Kim Jong but it was not officially confirmed whether the person is the son using an alias, the paper said.

Not much information is available about Kim Jong Un, including his exact age, though experts say he is in his mid-20s and is reported to have studied in Switzerland. Kim Jong Il’s former sushi chef said in a 2003 memoir the son looks and acts just like his father and is the leader’s favorite.

Other newspapers as well as Yonhap news agency and YTN television carried similar reports. They highlight the intense interest in South Korea in the succession.

North Korean leaders hold absolute power in the impoverished country, which has active nuclear and missile programs and regularly threatens to destroy rival South Korea.

National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon told legislators last week that North Korea has launched a propaganda campaign aimed at making its 24 million people adore Kim Jong Un, such as releasing songs and poems praising him, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting.

On Saturday, North Korea said it will hold a rare Workers’ Party conference in September to choose new top leaders, a move experts say may be aimed at giving Kim Jong Un a top party job.

Tension has been high on the Korean peninsula over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March that the South blames on Pyongyang. Seoul has asked the U.N. Security Council to punish Pyongyang, which flatly denies it launched any attack and warns any punishment would trigger war.

N. Korea promotes Kim relative in reshuffle

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (center) sits on the podium during a rare second session of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday, June 7, 2010. Sitting on the left side of Mr. Kim is the North’s No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam.

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June 7, 2010

SEOUL (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law was promoted and a premier who apologized for a currency debacle was replaced Monday in a rare parliamentary session with strong signs that the secretive nation was preparing a hereditary succession of power.

Mr. Kim was shown on Pyongyang’s state-run television presiding over the session, sitting behind a desk in the middle of a long line of parliamentarians. The scene was shot from a distance, so it was difficult to assess the health of the 68-year-old Mr. Kim, believed to have suffered a stroke two years ago.

The rubber-stamp parliament, or the Supreme People’s Assembly, usually meets once each year to approve bills vetted by the ruling Workers’ Party. The body met in April, and no reason was given for holding Monday’s unusual second session.

But the session came amid worsening economic woes, pressing succession issues and a South Korean campaign to get the United Nations to punish Pyongyang for a ship attack in March that killed 46 sailors. North denies sinking the ship, and state-run media did not say whether parliament discussed the issue, which the South has taken to the United Nations.

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the lawmakers approved a major leadership reshuffle.

The most notable change was the promotion of Mr. Kim’s brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek. He was named vice chairman of the all-powerful National Defense Commission, which makes security policy. Mr. Jang is widely believed to be a key backer of the North Korean leader’s third son, Jong Un, who several analysts think will be his father’s successor.

Mr. Jang is married to Mr. Kim’s younger sister and is said to be poised to play a kingmaker role. Many believe he may lead a collective leadership after Mr. Kim’s death until the new leader takes over.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul-based University of North Korean Studies, said, “Electing Jang Song Thaek to the post of vice chairman officially appoints him as No. 2 in facilitating stable succession of power.”

He added, “With this post, he has been given all responsibility and rights to secure a stable structure for future succession.”

The new premier was identified as Choe Yong Rim, a parliament member who replaces Kim Yong-il, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.