Extra! Korea

May 22, 2009

Kim Jong-il gains more political power, yet recent actions may indicate coming power struggle

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 3:53 am

What is happening in the enigma that is North Korea? According to this article, North Korea has changed its constitution so that Kim Jong-il has, officially, even more power. This is mostly symbolic, since he already wields near-absolute power.

Since 1998, power in the North had been divided among the National Defense Commission, which Kim heads, the Supreme People’s Assembly, and standing committees. The constitutional revision heralds a new era in which Kim is officially recognized as supreme leader.

[ snip ]

The constitutional revision, however, is more a symbolic gesture that simply made powers already held by Kim. It means no fundamental changes in the North’s power structure.

After leader Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, North Korea revised its constitution in September 1998 to allow three bodies to share the governing of state affairs but gave real power to Kim Jong Il.

And yet, this article claims that recent actions, such as the launching of a missile and the arrests of two journalists, may be signs of a impending power struggle, due to the fact that Kim Jong-il may be physically ailing, and there is uncertainty about whether or not a chosen successor will be able to take the reigns of power.

In an interview with VOA on Wednesday, Scott Snyder, the director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, said the internal situation in North Korea is ominous and recent actions including the launch of a long-range rocket seem to have something to do with the succession question. There are opinions that for want of a properly prepared heir apparent, one of Kim’s sons will end up as a figurehead for one or the other power group in the North.

A senior South Korean government official on Thursday said, “We understand that recent acts by North Korea are not actually messages for the U.S., as we believed during the early days of the Obama administration.”


  1. A precautionary symbolic move before his death, probably to justify an hereditary succession.

    Comment by Bwe — May 22, 2009 @ 5:45 am

  2. […] am According to the BBC and Yonhap News, North Korea may have conducted a second nuclear test. In possibly-related news, North Korean elementary school children have to memorize a song glorifying Kim Jong-il’s […]

    Pingback by N. Korea may have conducted nuclear test, children required to memorize song about Kim Jong-il’s son « Extra! Korea — May 25, 2009 @ 3:48 am

  3. The naming of his son as successor suggests you may have been substantially correct with this call.

    Comment by Garfield — June 3, 2009 @ 1:19 am

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