Recently a reader of GuamDiary asked a question about why our blog has not broached the question of succession in North Korea. Our reader's curiosity was raised by what is happening in Egypt.
The question of succession in North Korea has been for all intents and purposes settled in North Korea. Kim Jong il, after much negotiation within the military and political power structure, has anointed his youngest and third son Kim Jung eun as his successor. Admittedly, we know little about this young man of 26 [we are not even sure of his actual age]; we speculate that he had his secondary schooling in Switzerland, and so, it seems as though he has knowledge of German, English, and possibly French; he has familiarity with ways of a capitalist society. Certainly, as grandson of Kim Il Sung, he has had the best of an elite education North Korea has to offer its elite. For that matter, he may know Russian and Chinese.
We do hear from visitors who go to the North from South Korea and the US and China, that he is cutting his teeth on a rigorous programme of leadership, one mapped out for his father before him. Owing to Kim Jong il's precarious health, Kim Jung eun may be on a faster track, but we cannot say for sure. We can safely posit that he is learning the ropes.
Promoted to a four star general in September 2010, he has little or no military training we know of. In this area, his aunt and uncle will guide him and the military leadership as well as the Workers party cadre, are on board with Kim Jong il's choice.
Everyone and his mother and father in the Westhave written scripts of disaster if and when Kim Jong eun attains power. North Korea will implode, refugees will flood China and South Korea, so on and on. But those accounts of possible turns of events remain wishful thinking but no one can predict with the any degree of certainty or credibility that some people invest Nostradumus' tea leaves that what they are reading is true.
If anthing, it is an ackowledgment that they have not know the history of North Korea nor why Kim Il Sung rose to lead it. Looking at photos of Kim Jung eun, the eye cannot escape the uncanny resemblance of him and his grandfather. Physically, he will be a constant reminder of the sainted aura Kim Il Sung has in the North, and if anything this will bolster the younger Kim's image among North Koreans.
Let's turn to Egypt, as a reader asked. Hosni Mubarak is 83, in poor health, and the results of recent elections with ballot box stuffing and jailing of opponents will bring him another term. Will he live longer enough to serve a full term? Rumour in the streets and bazaars have it that Mubarak's son Gamal will assume the mantle of 'rais' [head of state or president]. Maybe yes. Maybe no. What is certain, the army which is the real power in Egypt will not allow the Muslim Brotherhood or any of its surrogates to attain power.
So if it's not Gamal Mubarak, it will be a general or a candidate of the military who will succeed Hosni Mubarak. Egyptian history does not confer the same cachet of authority on the Mubarak progeny as the Kims have in North Korea. So, although our reader may see a parallel in the matter of succession, it does not hold up well.