Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kim Jong Il's successor (“envelope please”) ... Paek Se Bong!

Although it's gone unnoticed by foreign analysts, Kim Jong Il's successor is actually: Paek Se Bong.

But who is Paek Se Bong? Ah, that’s the problem. Paek is a mystery person. Search the archives of the North’s official Korean Central News Agency and the name comes up only twice, the first time when Paek was originally appointed to the commission in 2003. If Paek had not been re-elected April 9 this year the original reference could have been forgotten as a historical anomaly — but here we have evidence that Paek, after six years of invisibility, is very much with us.

The name evidently is a pseudonym — understandable to many North Koreans as shorthand for the “Three Peaks of Mt. Paektu,” a term the regime uses to associate Kim, his father and his mother with a high mountain on the Chinese border that is sacred in both ancient Korean mythology and communist propaganda.

Paek Se Bong, then, is a code term for one or more Kim family members being groomed to take over as next-generation head of the dynasty.

[Excerpt of an article by Bradley K. Martin, veteran Asia correspondent]

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