An official in the offices of President Lee Myung Bak has claimed that the possibility of Kim Jong Eun being in China with his father is “high”, although it remains unconfirmed.
If Kim Jong Eun is travelling with his father, it might signal meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and/or Vice President Xi Jinping, considered the most likely to take over from President Hu, alongside other influential members of the Politburo.
Through any such diplomatic meet and greet, Kim Jong Il may seek acceptance for Kim Jong Eun’s succession, though the Chinese media has already signaled that China’s determination to maintain stability in the region means it will not stand in the way of the succession.
This Chinese acquiescence primarily comes from the fact that there is no other alternative.
Lee Ki Dong, the chief researcher with the Institute for National Security Strategy, said in an interview with The Daily NK, “Kim Jong Eun is likely to have accompanied Kim Jong Il on this trip to China. This may be for the purpose of giving Kim Jong Eun, as the successor, experience of practical work.”
He pointed out, however, that “Kim Jong Il doesn’t intend to get approval from China. This is because if China showed a gesture of approval of the North Korean successor, it would not be helpful for China from the international perspective.”
However, Kim Young Hwan, a member of the research committee of NKnet, predicted, “There is the possibility that, facing the Delegates’ Conference, Kim Jong Il needs the final acknowledgement of China, so Kim Jong Eun may have gone with him. Kim Jong Il might have told China that he would come back with his son.”
In May when Kim last visited the Chinese capital, he travelled without Kim Jong Eun.
However, Cheong Seong Chang, a North-South relations researcher at the Sejong Institute, disagrees with Kim’s analysis, instead focusing on aid issues.
“Kim Jong Il is visiting China to get food aid and other aid for the restoration of flood damage; he desperately needs Chinese assistance in order to hold the 3rd Delegates’ Conference successfully,” Cheong said.