Extra! Korea

April 27, 2009

Kim Jong-il’s youngest son elevated to post in military body

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 6:43 am

The third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been assigned to a post in the communist nation’s top military organization headed by Kim, apparently a sign of being groomed as the North’s next leader, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday, quoting multiple sources privy to North Korea affairs.

[ snip ]

Sources noted that Jong-un’s course of “succession lessons” is different from that of his father, who started his political career in the Workers’ Party. They said the move shows the authority of the National Defense Commission headed by Kim under his military-first policy.

Kim Jong-il was tapped as successor at 32 by his father and the nation’s founder, Kim Il-sung, in a general meeting of the Workers’ Party in 1974. He took over after his father’s death in 1994.

[ snip ]

The 25-year-old is the youngest of Kim’s three sons. Jong-un was educated at the International School of Berne and is known to be a fan of NBA basketball. After returning to Pyongyang in his late teens, he has lived a reclusive life, and very little is known about his character.


Kim Jong Un speaks English, likes basketball — and is said to look and act just like his father.

[ snip ]

The eccentric leader has three known sons by two women. The oldest, Kim Jong Nam, was long considered his favorite — until he tried to sneak into Japan using a fake Dominican passport and visit Tokyo’s Disney resort in 2001.

The middle son, Kim Jong Chol, apparently has never been a favorite as a possible leader. Kim Jong Il’s former sushi chef says in a 2003 memoir that the leader considers his second son “girlish.”

But talk about the youngest son has been growing. On Sunday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Kim Jong Un was assigned to a low-level post at the defense commission, the top government body, several days before his father was reappointed as the commission’s chairman on April 9.

[ snip ]

South Korea’s Unification Ministry and the National Intelligence Service said they cannot confirm the report.

Little is known about Kim Jong Un. The former sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto, says in his memoir that the son looks and acts just like his father.

The teen studied at the International School of Bern in Switzerland, a short walk from the North Korean embassy, where classes are taught in English and many students come from diplomatic families.

A recent article in the French-speaking weekly L’Hebdo described Kim Jong Un as a shy student enrolled under the name of Chol Pak, who enjoyed team sports like basketball, went skiing with friends on Fridays and admired Michael Jordan and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

“He had a lot of friends among the children of American diplomats,” the school’s past director, David Gatley, told L’Hebdo.

Kim Jong Il believes his youngest son has “charismatic leadership” like him, said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the security think tank Sejong Institute.

[ snip ]

But Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, disagreed, saying Kim Jong Il is believed to be focusing more on consolidating his support base rather than appointing his successor, which would quickly erode his power.


There’s a good Chosun Ilbo article about how Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, Jong-nam, fell from his father’s favor.
(Hat Tip to ROK Drop)

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