Chongryon Facing Succession Dilemma

Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) has been troubled since the announcement of the third generation succession and the Yeonpyeong Island attack, according to a report carried by Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese daily.

Pointing out that Chongryon, a pro-North Korea organization, has kept uncharacteristically silent on the issue of the Kim Jong Eun succession, Sankei reported today, “Even though the Chongryon may have welcomed it given that Kim Jong Eun’s mother, Koh Young Hee, was a Korean resident in Japan, there was no special reaction.”

Regarding this atmosphere, a member of Chongryon told Sankei, “As long as they are located in Japan, they are repulsed by hereditary succession,” adding, “When General Secretary Kim Jong Il inherited the position from his father, too, many were reluctant to accept it and only understood it because it was the wish of Premier Kim Il Sung. However, there is no Premier Kim now.”

The report predicted that many members of Chongryon may leave for that reason.

Even before this, Chongryon has been in general decline for a number of years. Many former members deserted the organization after Kim Jong Il admitted to the existence of Japanese abductees in North Korea to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in September, 2002, for example, while it has also been having difficulty lately due to the Japanese government’s refusal to support its pro-North Korea schools.

However, it may be that the news of the succession doesn’t really make much difference now, after all. As one anonymous expert acquainted with the internal machinations of Chongryon told The Daily NK today, “Those who had the chance to leave it have already left. The only members who still remain in the organization are those whose families or relatives headed for North Korea in the 1960s and 1970s; those who are now hostages.”

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