Tuesday, November 11, 2003

SUCCESSION SPECULATION: A Dong-A Ilbo article quotes American intelligence agencies on the future of North Korea. The piece (based on a Washington Post article that I can't seem to find on the web) argues that Kim Jong Il will be succeeded by either one of his sons (surprise, surprise) or someone from the military. One name that has surfaced in this latest round of Pyongyangology is Yon Hyung-muk:
One diplomatic source of the Korean peninsula in Washington D.C. said that Yon Hyung-muk, a former technocrat-turned-leader who was appointed as the premier vice chairman of the National Defense Committee during the second-term guidance division reform, is being discussed for the position on November 9.

The same source explained that Vice Chairman Yon is an authority on Chinese issues and is desired by the Chinese government to be the next leader of North Korea since Yon was born in Yanbian, China and had lived in China until he was in junior high school. In addition, he has also assumed the role of chairman of the Second Economic Committee, responsible for taking care of the entire North Korean munitions manufacturing, and as the governor of the Chaggang province, a strategically important position for the military and munitions.

This source also reported, "If Kim Jong-il is 'eliminated,' they want Vice Chairman Yon, an authority on Chinese issues, to take over the regime."
One never knows how much stock, if any, to put in the anonymous predictions of various American intelligence agencies, but at least they are thinking about the possibility that the DPRK may not collapse tomorrow (and even if the Kim Jong Il regime collapses, this may not mean the end of North Korea).

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