Collective rule to govern North Korea
New North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un (L) shakes hands with generals. REUTERS photoNorth Korea will shift to collective rule, including his untested young son Kim Jong-un, his uncle and the military, from a strongman dictatorship after last week’s death of Kim Jong-il, although his son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said.
The source added that the military, which is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal, has pledged allegiance to the untested Kim Jong-un, who takes over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since it was founded after World War Two.
The comments are the first signal that North Korea is following a course that many analysts have anticipated -- it will be governed by a group of people for the first time since it was founded in 1948. Both Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung were all-powerful, authoritarian rulers of the isolated state. The situation in North Korea appeared stable after the military gave its backing to Kim Jong-un, the source said.
“It’s very unlikely,” the source said when asked about the possibility of a military coup. “The military has pledged allegiance to Kim Jong-un.” Jang Song-thaek, 65, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il and the younger Kim’s uncle, is seen as the power behind the throne along with his wife Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s sister. So too is Ri Yong-ho, the rising star of the North’s military and currently its seniormost general.
The high-level source also said the North Korea test-fired a missile Dec. 19 to warn the United States not to make any moves against it. “But (North) Korea is unlikely to conduct a nuclear test in the near future unless provoked” by the United States and South Korea, the source said.
South Korean intelligence also indicated yesterday North Korea has tightened internal security and put troops on alert since the announcement of leader Kim Jong Il’s death. South Korean parliament member Kwon Young-se said Seoul’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) believes the North is now concentrating on consolidating Kim Jong Un’s power and that the country has placed its troops on alert.
Kwon said the NIS has told the parliamentary intelligence committee, which he chairs, that senior military officials have pledged allegiance to Kim Jong Un, but police security has been tightened in major cities across the country. Officials in Seoul say they have not seen any unusual military troop movements. Initial indications coming out of North Korea suggest the transition to Kim Jong Un was moving forward.
Meanwhile, defectors from North Korea launched leaflets calling for an uprising in the communist state across the tense border from the South yesterday following the death of leader Kim Jong-il. The 200,000 leaflets, carried by gas-filled balloons with timing devices to scatter them, contained news of the Arab Spring popular revolts and lambasted the North’s dynastic transition to Jong-un.
“Rise up people. Fight bravely like the Africans to end the third-generation succession,” the leaflets read. “We welcome the miserable death of Kim Jong-Il,” the defectors and activists shouted, who also handed out a statement attacking the late leader’s youngest son for inheriting the dictatorship.
Compiled from Reuters, AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.