Thursday, May 28, 2009

A North Korea successor after '150-day battle'?

On the streets of Pyongyang, posters depict workers soaring into the sky alongside a long-range rocket , part of a 150-day campaign to spur North Koreans to work harder by instilling them with national pride. Some suspect the push is a political campaign designed to cement national unity as the regime sets the stage for the communist nation's next leader.

The five-month campaign is set to culminate in early October, about the time of the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. North Korea could then hold a national convention - its first in nearly 30 years - to announce a successor to aging leader Kim Jong Il, says Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, a South Korean security think tank. “I think the campaign is aimed at building up achievements that the successor can later claim credit for,” he said.

Kim Jong Il has not said publicly who will become head of the nation of 24 million. Most analysts, including Cheong, think Kim's youngest son, 26-year-old Kim Jong Un, is his favorite and has the best chance of succeeding the authoritarian leader.

Cheong noted that North Korea founder Kim Il Sung arranged for his son to take credit for a “70-day battle” before he was tapped in 1974 to succeed his father. The succession decision was made public in a 1980 convention. Kim Jong Il formally assumed leadership upon his father's death in 1994.

Kim Jong Il was said to want to name his successor in 2012. But health concerns may have sped up the timing, analysts said, with the 2012 date moved forward to what's been billed in the North as a “150-day battle”.


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