According to sources from inside North Korea, domestic propaganda building up the reputation of Kim Jong Woon as the successor to Kim Jong Il, which had been intense, has been temporarily halted.
Since August, potential anomalies in the third-generation succession system have been detected.
Kim Gil Myung (pseudonym), who trades between Dandong, China and Shinuiju, North Korea, met with a Daily NK reporter on the 20th. "The succession project (regarding Kim Jong Woon) has completely stopped,” he said, “Since the start of August, I have not heard any news about General Kim (Kim Jong Woon) during factory lectures. Officials have not provided a specific reason, simply saying that a decree has been issued from above."
A North Hamkyung Province source also told Daily NK in a phone conversation on the 22nd, "An internal decree has been issued which prohibits the singing of the song 'Footsteps,' which praises Kim Jong Woon. The lyrics of the song, which were put up on the bulletin board of every factory and enterprise office, have quietly come down."
The North Korean authorities previously went to great lengths to imply the might of Kim Jong Woon, even attributing the second nuclear test and attendant missile launches to him. "Channel 3," a cable broadcast inside North Korea, had also been concentrating on the song "Footsteps." But all such efforts apparently came to an abrupt halt in August.
Daily NK has only been able to assess the political background of the situation based on the testimony of a Propaganda Secretary from North Hamkyung Province which was made on the 24th.
According to him, the first brakes on Kim Jong Woon propaganda were applied on July 9th. On that day, a decree instructing officials to "Carry out the propaganda project regarding the successor quietly and internally" was issued to each provincial and municipal Party secretary.
However, the Propaganda Secretary explained that this initial decree was just an effort by Kim Jong Il to regulate domestic activities out of concern for international criticism of the third-generation succession system, not an order to halt the succession process itself.
The North Korean authorities actually ceased propaganda activities starting July 28th.
A decree titled "The Direction for Propaganda and Agitation in August," issued by the Propaganda and Agitation Department under the Workers' Party's Central Committee to each provincial and municipal Party department clearly specified, "Stop sending out propaganda regarding Captain Kim in lecture meetings or on Channel 3, and refrain from using the expression, 'Young General of Mt. Baekdu.'"
He explained, "This meant that all domestic propaganda regarding Kim had to stop altogether."
A Yangang Province source was able to confirm, "The song lyrics of 'Footsteps' which were posted on factory bulletin boards all came down and students have stopped singing the song on the way to school. Similar decrees have also been issued to markets."
When the successor propaganda project came to a sudden stop without apparent justification, interest in the reason increased even among the officials themselves.
The Propaganda Secretary claimed, "Kim Jong Woon, by forging an official document, incurred the wrath of Kim Jong Il. The latter accused the former of forcibly removing devoted officials and causing factionalism by planting his own forces."
In other words, Jong Woon, who does not have any power to appoint officials, attempted to shake things up by plotting to harm figures opposed to him.
In actuality, rumors have been circulating that a shift in personnel, mainly officials in the Politburo of the People's Safety Agency and the National Security Agency, took place in May and June. Kim Jong Woon has already been implicated in that process.
Even still, the reasons for putting a stop to the propaganda project are not clear. This is partly due to the uniqueness of the testimony of the anonymous Propaganda Secretary, and that the news has mostly circulated in the form of rumor among officials.
Therefore, a person working with an NGO involved in gathering intelligence on North Korea encouraged circumspection in a phone conversation with Daily NK, "The propaganda project regarding Kim began intensively in May, but as far as I know, it has come to a stop. However, more precise information is needed to find out the cause."
The propaganda project had not resumed as of the 25th.