September 28, 2010
Originally scheduled for the beginning of September, a special conference of the Korean Workers Party (KWP) has started yesterday in Pyongyang. The last such conference took place in 1980 and was meant to confirm the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, as his father’s successor.
The conference has confirmed 68-year old Kim Jong Il as the party’s secretary general, but more importantly his third son, Kim Jong Un was bestowed the title of army general. The promotion is widely seen as a clear indication that Kim Jong Il is preparing his son to take over the reins of the country. If we discount Cuba, where Raul Castro has taken over from his brother Fidel the day-to-day running of the country’s affairs, North Korea is the only country in the world with an established communist dynasty at its helm.
Crawling from crisis to crisis, North Korea has a disproportionate influence in Asian geopolitics and international affairs, for its relatively small size and population. Endemic economic problems, food shortages and massive haemorrhage of illegal immigrants towards China alternate with military tensions with Japan and South Korea, when the communist dictatorship is not busy blackmailing the West with its nuclear projects.
Taking all this into consideration, it would be interesting to know what changes, if any, the conference will bring to the WPK’s policies. The only thing we can be sure of at this point in time is that the North Korean leader is ill and actively preparing his succession.
(sources: Le Monde, Xinhua News, Kyodo News)