Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kim Jong Un Suspected to Follow Father as DPRK Leader

Via Yahoo! News (AP) -

The eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said he has no interest in who will take over the reins of the communist nation and indicated his father has not yet named a successor, a news report said Saturday.

Kim Jong Nam's comments came amid conflicting media speculation over who will inherit power from his father, Kim Jong Il, and a day after the North's leader met a senior Chinese envoy in an apparent bid to show he is fit despite reportedly suffering a stroke last August.

"No one can say for sure and only father will decide," the leader's son told reporters upon arrival in Beijing for a personal visit, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.


Citing an unidentified intelligence source, Yonhap reported last week that Kim Jong Un was chosen as the North's next leader.

Jong Un was born to Kim Jong Il's late wife Ko Yong Hi. Ko had another son, Kim Jong Chol, but the father reportedly doesn't favor the middle son as a possible leader.

Kim Jong Nam, 38, had long been considered the favorite to succeed his father — until he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001, reportedly telling Japanese officials he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

His mother is the late actress Sung Hae Rim.

Meanwhile, Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported last week that Kim Jong Nam was expected to serve as a nominal head of state, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources.

Yomiuri also said that Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, has been assigned to look after the eldest son and is playing a central role in building a collective leadership system to back him up.

Asked whether he has Jang's support, Kim Jong Nam said he cannot "answer such a sensitive question," Yonhap said.

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