Friday, May 20, 2011

Not apparent if Heir Apparent Kim Jong-un visiting China

South Koreans pay close attention to the movements of the leadership of North Korea, perhaps the world's most secretive regime.

Midst the conflicting accounts of whether Kim Jong-il's heir apparent son, Kim Jong-un, accompanied his father to China on Friday, The Korea Herald reports that a source in a Chinese border city confirmed the junior Kim Jong-un’s presence. The junior Kim appeared to be heading to Mudanjiang in northeast China after arriving in the Chinese border city of Tumen early Friday morning, the source in Tumen told Yonhap News Agency.

Open Radio for North Korea, a South Korean NGO partly staffed by defectors from the North, and who maintains a network of informants in North Korea, reports: "I checked through my sources, and one had heard from a military officer working at the border yesterday that there was some kind of 'emergency' along the border," said Ha Tae-kyung, the organization's president.

"According to that military officer, it was Kim Jong Il who is going -- not his son."

The term of Chinese President Hu Jintao's term is set to expire next year, prompting some to anticipate greater diplomatic interchange between Beijing and Pyongyang as Kim seeks to forge relations with the incoming leader.

"Kim Jong Il wants to get something from South Korea or the U.S. or China -- economic aid or security assurances -- but at the moment he is not getting anything and China is preventing North Korea from further provocations," said Choi Jin-wook of Seoul's Korea Institute of National Unification. "Kim wants to know what China is going to do for them."

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