North Korea succession drama

 

A
rare meeting of North Korea’s ruling party has opened the way for Kim Jong-il
to hand power to his youngest son.

The
Workers’ Party, which had not met for 30 years, convened hours after Kim
Jong-un was appointed general – even though he has no military experience.

His
father, who is thought to be in poor health, was re-elected as leader, state
media reported.

North
Korea’s succession is being closely watched because of its nuclear programme
and hostility with the South.

Kim
Jong-un is the elder Kim’s third son and had already been identified as the
most likely successor to the Communist dynasty started by his grandfather, Kim
Il-sung, in 1948.

Little
is known of him other than that he was educated in Switzerland and is about 27
years of age.

His
elder brother and half-brother appear to have been ruled out of the running for
the succession.

Japanese
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Kim Jong-un’s promotion to four-star
general signified a “clear assertion of intentions”.

Kim
Jong-il has been described as frail. He is said to have had a stroke two years
ago, and was given treatment in China, although no public comment has been made
by either Beijing or Pyongyang.

There
was no mention of his condition as state media reported that the
once-in-a-generation session of the Workers’ Party had re-elected him as
general secretary amid a “storm of applause”.

The
television announcer spoke of “crucial” developments taking place,
adding that the elder Kim had been reappointed as an “expression of
absolute support and trust”.

The
state-run Korean Central News Agency lauded Kim Jong-il’s “immortal
exploits” and said they would “shine long in the history of the
country”.

The
agency also announced the elevation of two other key figures to the post of
four-star general: Kim Jong-il’s sister, Kyong-hui, and a long-time family
aide, Choe Ryong-hae.

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