Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Titles for North's Kim Ahead of Missile Test

A Dynastic Succession Seems Settled
As So-Called Satellite Launch Looms

North Korea has neared completion of its leadership transition, giving Kim Jong Un several new titles and solidifying his position as heir to the political dynasty established by his father and grandfather.

North Korea's official news agency on Thursday said Kim was named chairman of the ruling Worker's Party Central Military Commission, which controls the country's 1.1 million member military. He was also elected Wednesday as a standing member of the party's powerful Political Bureau and awarded the newly created title of “first secretary.”

Rapid Rise to the Top

Kim's newest titles appear to complete a rapid rise to the top of the party's leadership that began when his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December.

The move comes shortly before what the North is calling a weather satellite launch and what other nations say is really a long-range ballistic missile test. The launch is part of a month-long celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country's founding leader and father of Kim Jong Il.

Since Kim Jong Il's death in December, the younger Kim has moved quickly into a number of posts controlling the key levers of power in the secretive and authoritarian government.

A year before his father's death, Kim was made a four-star general, in spite of a lack of any military experience. In late December, he was named supreme commander of military forces.
He has undertaken a number of guidance visits to military facilities and schools, usually accompanied by a group of men in their 70s and 80s.

It is believed he is being mentored by Kim Kyong Hui, an aunt who was close to Kim Jong Il, and her powerful husband, Jang Song Taek.