Sunday, November 14, 2010

Will North Korea’s Kim Jong Un be a 'great king'?

In its Oct. 4 edition, the Workers' Party of Korea's official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, described the people of North Korea as "the descendants of Comrade Kim Il Sung." Now, following Kim Jong Il, the present leader's youngest son, Kim Jong Un has been anointed as heir apparent.

The Kingdom of Great Joseon, which was founded in the late 14th century and lasted for more than five centuries, was ruled by 27 kings. Only a very few of them were honored with the appellation "the Great." All of these respected kings made serious efforts to improve the well-being of the people, including Sejong the Great (1397-1450), the fourth king of the dynasty, who created Hangul, the Korean alphabet. They were also called "saint kings," because of their sagacity and great virtue.

As of last spring, the North Korean regime began mounting a vigorous propaganda campaign to introduce Kim Jong Un to the people. He was cast as a hero who is superbly qualified to be the next leader. He has been presented as a computer expert and a top-notch gunman.

Kim Jong Un’s promotions have cemented his status as "the legitimate heir to the throne." Kim Jong Un now has some trusted lieutenants. The Workers' Party, which has many cells, each of which are composed of three to four members, in local communities to ensure that everybody serves Kim Jong Un as his subjects irrespective of his leadership experience or personal qualities.

But there is no doubt that the challenges awaiting the young man are even more formidable than those confronting his father. Asahi Shimbun relates a story of when Kim Jong Un accompanied his father to local communities, it was noted by a local resident that Kim Jong Un stopped a female assistant as she tried to put a coat over his shoulders, while saying, "You don't have to do so such a thing."

This story, if true, may tell something about his personality.

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