Seoul (AsiaNews) – The youngest son and designated successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has arrived in China this morning on a quasi-official visit. The trip of North Korea’s heir apparent to Pyongyang’s closest ally since the division of the peninsula is highly symbolic. Since he is not accompanied by his father, it would indicate that Beijing has accepted him as the likely successor.
“The young man must have convinced his father that he can manage relations with China, the only ally propping up North Korea’s devastated economy,” a source in South Korea told AsiaNews. “But this means that Chinese leaders have also approved the political purges and show trials Jong-un has launched in the past year.” Indeed, the images of a public trial against three petty criminals have emerged from North Korea, a practice totalitarian regimes have always used against their enemies.
Weakened by age and a diseased pancreas, ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il had put an end to show trials. “He could not antagonise any further the people after bringing the country to the brink of destruction. The son, instead, is using an iron feast to frighten the people and ensure the military’s loyalty, and Beijing does not plan to stop him.”
Kim Jong-un arrived by train in Tumen, in China’s Jilin province, on the border with North Korea, South Korean papers reported. Although the Chinese government has not officially confirmed the visit, the younger Kim is accompanied by his uncle, Jang Song-taek, widely seen as the political godfather his father imposed to train him for the job.
Now observers are waiting to see whom the younger Kim will meet. According to Prof Yoo Ho-yeol Korea University, it “will be impossible for him to meet Hu Jintao for political reasons. Hu is the president of the country and the party, whilst the younger Kim is his father’s deputy. For this reason, a meeting with Vice President Xi will be more appropriate from the point of view of protocol.”
Moreover, “the two have a lot to discuss. At present, they are bound to rule their respective countries in a couple of years, and know that they will have to deal with each for a long time. Thus, an introductory meeting to vet each other will be useful.”