Academic journal article North Korean Review

North Korean Newsbriefs

Academic journal article North Korean Review

North Korean Newsbriefs

Article excerpt

Additional Reports Point to Kim Jong-un as Possible Successor

According to news reports in the beginning of June, the South Korean National Intelligence Agency (NIS) intercepted messages from North Korea to its overseas embassies stating that Kim Jong-un, age 26, would succeed his father, Kim Jong-il, age 67, as leader of the state. The decision was reportedly made after Kim's rumored stroke in August 2008. Yonhap News said on Tuesday, June 2, that the NIS confirmed the designation. Kim Jong-il reportedly sent a directive to Workers' Party of Korea leaders on January 8 regarding Kim Jong-un's nomination, and the selection of his son was said to have been made shortly after the second nuclear test of May 25. Kim Jong-il subsequently notified the Korean People's Army, the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the Cabinet, and overseas diplomatic missions of his son's designation, urging that the heir apparent be called "Captain Kim." Kim Jong-un, born January 8, 1983, is the second son of Ko Yong-hee, Kim Jong-il's third wife, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 51. The youth attended an international school in Switzerland and finished his studies in Pyongyang. Some North Korean intellectuals are said to oppose the son's nomination because of his background. On Friday, June 12, JoongAng Ilbo reported that United States and South Korean intelligence authorities learned that Kim Jong-un was dubbed "Brilliant Comrade" in ostensible preparation for his succession. Mainichi Shimbun said on Saturday, June 20, that Kim Jong-un was appointed as acting defense chief under Kim Jong-il, who is chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the highest state body in North Korea. Kim Jong-un is also reportedly in charge of the National Security Agency (the secret police) and is said to have overseen the detainment of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. A number of commentators have noted that Kim Jong-un's succession is not definite.

American Journalists Put on Trial and Found Guilty

The Central Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea tried detained American journalists Laura Ling, age 32, and Euna Lee, age 36, on Thursday, June 4, at 3:00 P.M. The pair had been arrested on the Tumen River on March 17 after crossing the China-North Korea border while filming a story on North Korean refugees for Current TV, an independent media outlet co-founded by Al Gore and based in San Francisco. Both women were permitted to phone their families at the end of May, and according to the U.S. State Department, they were also met for a third time on Monday, June 1, by Mats Foyer, Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang, who represents U.S. interests. U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood described the Ling-Lee case as a "high priority for the president and secretary" and that the nuclear issue was an unrelated affair. U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton herself denounced the charges against Ling and Lee as "baseless" and demanded their immediate release. The journalists, who were accused of illegal entry and "suspected hostile acts" against the Stalinist regime, were found guilty on June 8 of a "grave crime" and "illegal border crossing" and sentenced to twelve years of hard labor in prison camp. The Central Court decision could not be appealed. Clinton was reported on June 9 to have said Washington and Pyongyang exchanged messages about the journalists. On June 16, the Korean Central News Agency declared that Ling and Lee knowingly crossed over the border and videotaped their unauthorized entry, quoting them as saying, "We've just entered a North Korean courtyard without permission." The trial and sentencing of the journalists is apparently being exploited for bilateral nuclear talks with the U.S., which has insisted on the six-party framework.

U.S. Navy Tracks North Korean Ship under UN Resolution

Responding to the second North Korean nuclear test of May 25, the UN Security Council imposed UN Resolution 1874 on North Korea on Friday, June 12, banning all trade of weapons to the country, with the exception of small arms, and permitting UN members to search North Korean vessels for banned cargo. …

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