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North Korea's next top mogul?


Up until Wednesday, observers of the Hermit Kingdom speculated with some confidence that ailing dictator Kim Jong Il's youngest son, Kim Jong Eun, would soon be named his father's successor. Now some are expressing doubts -- not because of an official denunciation by the elder Kim but because of a grainy photograph showing the lumpish heir-apparent sitting with a blank, soulless stare on his face, the first confirmed image of the alleged North Korean dauphin since this shot  was snapped at age 11. This is not the stuff of dictators-to-be, some experts speculate. Times staff writers John M. Glionna and Ethan Kim report:

While Jong Eun this week was named to senior positions within the Workers' Party, another sign that he may soon be North Korea's next leader, many suggested that Thursday's photograph further called that move into question.

"Looking at a young kid supposed to be 27 or 28 and appointing him a general is something ordinary citizens are finding hard to believe," Kim Heung-gwang, a former university professor who heads the Seoul-based North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity group, said when told of the photo.

"Many sources who I spoke to are saying, 'How is this kid going to lead a nation?' "

This is precisely the kind of speculation a Times editorial  on Wednesday said underpins much of what we think we know about North Korea. The precious little information the free world had on the presumed dictator-in-waiting was shaky enough to be called into question by an unflattering photograph of Kim Jong Il's son. 

As for the latest speculation on the younger Kim's future, the Pyongyang propaganda machine managed to convince its captive subjects -- under threat of brutal imprisonment, of course -- that Kim Jong Il, whose ability to maintain tight control over North Korea was questioned before he was anointed "Dear Leader," was a worthy successor to eternal president  and "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung. No doubt it could work similar miracles with Kim's heir-apparent.

But when it comes to North Korea, every tea leaf that escapes its borders is worth a read -- and proves how little we know about Kim Jong Il's kingdom.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il poses with the newly elected members of the central leadership body of the Workers' Party of Korea, including a man believed to be his son, Kim Jong Eun. Credit: AFP photo / KCNA via KNS.


Comments () | Archives (5)

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I'm hopeful that China is going to initiate N.Korea to an open society, instead of hereditary power transfer. It's that the region is devoid of the coveted oil, and the physical clash with a counterpart could surely end up with entire ruin of both regions, even without nuclear weapons.

This way China is going to give certainty to the undetermined investors in relation to its commitment to openness.

As we can all agree, we are living in the age of GLOBALIZATION, much like internet.

Pasquino Marforio

LOL. I was going to make a derogatory remark about North Korea appointing a someone with no experience to be a four star general with a shirt full of medals...

And then I remember our Nobel Peace Prize winner... and shut up in shared embarrassment...

Rob DeCamp

I was in NK earlier this month, and the guides noted that they hadn't even heard about the existence of any children Kim Jong Il may have, much less any succession plans. When I mentioned to the 28 year old guide about the rumors about this 27 year old Kim, she didn't say anything, but her body language seemed surprised. I posted pics and a few short videos from the fascinating trip if anyone is interested: flickr.com/photos/robdecamp/sets/72157624958844914/

cheap cars

You can buy almost any type of car at a government and repo auctions, some cars will drop in value a lot faster than others, luxury cars and sports cars tend to drop the most value in percentage terms. Trucks like Ford and Chevy will hold value than BMW M3 for example, again we are talking in percentage terms. Popular SUV’s such the Chevy Suburban generally sell well on the used market and maintain a decent resale value on the lot. An ex police car like the popular Ford Crown is going to sell at auction for a fraction of its original price so if your just looking for a clunker then they are worth seeking out.


Go Kim Chi Eun!
Good for you young leader. I hope that you do something good for your sick and poor people.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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