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clock03-29-2010, 12:15 AM
Yorum: #1
big news from NK !


After No-Show, Questions Mount About Kim Jong Il

Paul Maidment, 09.09.08, 9:10 PM ET

In a country as secretive and closed-off as North Korea, it is difficult to know if the non-appearance of its reclusive Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, is news or just rumors as usual.

There has been gossip for some days among North Korea watchers that Kim collapsed two weeks ago, possibly of a serious illness. In the past, he has been reported to be diabetic and suffering from chronic heart disease--both of which he has denied--or that possibly he suffered a stroke, as some U.S. intelligence officials have surmised.

At the end of last week, a South Korean newspaper quoted high-ranking officials as saying that a team of Chinese doctors had gone to Pyongyang to examine the North Korean dictator.

All of which added grist to a long-running rumor mill about Kim's health. Just as still-unconfirmed reports did last year that German doctors had performed heart bypass surgery on Kim.

But the latest gossip gained some credence Tuesday. Kim did not show up for a huge military parade in the capital marking the 60th anniversary of North Korea's founding--not the sort of symbolic event a dictator whose power base is the army brushes off lightly. And he was was there for the 50th and 55th anniversary parades.

Kim has not been seen in public since inspecting a military unit Aug. 14. There have been many times before, though, that he has disappeared from view for longer. He was a no-show for 42 days in 2003.

The 60th anniversary parade was the biggest staged, and came amid the latest impasse in international efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Pyongyang agreed in February 2007 to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and diplomatic concessions, but has recently reversed its promised disarmament, accusing the U.S. of failing to meet its obligations under the six-nation deal.

The particular point of contention is North Korea's inclusion on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington says it will remove North Korea's name, but only after it complies fully with disarmament requirements.

The suspension of the disablement of its nuclear facilities may just be a ploy to delay things until a new administration takes office in the U.S. at the start of next year, and so let Kim start another round of the brinkmanship he appears so deft at.

Were he actually to be too ill to continue running the country, it could throw those talks for a loop, especially if there is a succession battle.

Sixty years on, North Korea is one of the last holdouts of totalitarian communism, and little is known about its power structure. The leadership is overshadowed by Kim's personality cult. His brutal rule is backed by the country's 1 million-strong military, the world's fifth largest.

Military spending accounts for 25% of gross domestic product, one reason the other 22 million North Koreans remain hungry and trapped in an economy that by any measure is a disaster.

Kim is the only communist leader to have inherited power from his father. He took up the reins from Kim Il Sung on the Great Leader's death in 1994.

Kim Jong Il's own eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, 37, held a senior position in the Security Ministry until he was caught trying to sneak into Japan in 2001 on a fake passport, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland, and was deported to China. As far as anyone can tell, that knocked back his political career, but he has recently been restored to a party position, and it was he who inspected the military ranks in today's parade.

If the dictatorial dynasty is to continue, Kim Jong Nam's main rival would likely be Kim Jong Chol, 27, the elder of two sons Kim Jong Il had by his second mistress, Ko Yong Hi. (Kim Jong Nam is the son of the Dear Leader's first mistress, Sung Hae Rim; both women are dead. Kim is estranged from his wife, by whom he had a daughter.)

Kim Jong Chol also holds a senior party position, and potentially more important, he may have support within the army. His younger brother, Kim Jong Un, 24, is said to be his father's favorite, but none of the three sons has been anointed heir apparent in a way detectable by the outside world.

If internal fractures open up within the regime should Kim Jong Il die or be incapacitated, the Raul Castro bridge figure would likely be Kim Yong Nam, the 80-year-old who is Kim Jong Il's No. 2 and the country's most familiar diplomat. But that assumes reports of Kim Jong Il's ill-health are not greatly exaggerated.

clock07-07-2012, 05:58 PM
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