As is the trend at this time of year, experts and institutes are releasing their predictions for the forthcoming year, and Cheong Seong Chang, a North-South relations researcher at the Sejong Institute, is no different. He believes that 2010 may well be the year when Kim Jong Eun is revealed officially as successor to Kim Jong Il.
Cheong released his report, “North Korea’s Situation, 2010,” on Wednesday, in which he predicts that a general assembly of the Central Committee of the Party, the core apparatus of power, will convened to confirm Kim Jong Eun’s status next year. The fact that 2010 is also the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chosun Workers’ Party lends some weight to his prediction.
Cheong explains in his report that Kim Jong Eun wields strong influence already, pointing out, “It has been confirmed that, in late 2009, Kim Jong Eun became involved in personnel management of the elite along with the Director of the Ministry of Administration, Jang Sung Taek, and first Vice-director of the Guidance Department Lee Jeh Gang.”
According to the report, Kim Jong Eun now makes suggestions directly to Kim Jong Il on personnel management issues vis a vis officials at levels higher than Vice-director.
“According to internal evaluation, with respect to the present power structure, while Kim Jong Il holds 60% of power, Kim Jong Eun holds 30%, and other close associates such as Jang Sung Taek, Director of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Young Choon, Vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission Oh Keuk Ryul, and Lee Jeh Kang share the remainder.”
Additionally, he claims that the establishment of the succession system has been accomplished in the military as well as the Central Committee of the Party.
In Cheong’s analysis, “Kim Jong Eun may be appointed officially to a significant position such as organizing secretary in 2010, just as Kim Jong Il was in 1973.”
Kim Jong Il became Secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party in the 7th general meeting of the 5th term of the Central Committee in September, 1973 and then became a politburo member at the 8th general meeting in February, 1974.
Lastly, Cheong predicted, “While Kim Jong Il focuses on the nuclear issue, international negotiations, inter-Korean talks and the construction of an economically strong state as Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong Eun will establish the succession through the Military Committee and Central Committee of the Party.”