01/27/2011, 00.00
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“Third” Kim in China solo, as succession appears linked to obedience

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Kim Jong-il’s designated heir appears to be preparing a solo visit to Beijing. Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping want to boost the alliance but also demand greater humility from the son compared to his I’ll-do-it-my-way father, ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-il.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The “third” Kim, who is also the third son and heir apparent of ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-il, is getting ready for his most important step towards succession. South Korean media are abuzz that Kim Jong-un is travelling to China, alone, a rumour a well-placed source confirmed to AsiaNews.

“It appears that Kim Jong-un is going to China alone,” the source told AsiaNews. “South Korean intelligence services believe it will occur very soon, right after the lunar New Year (3 February), around mid-February”.

Preparations are apparently already complete even though nothing indicates any heightened security in North Korea.

If there is anything that shows something is afoot, it is the absence of Jong-un and his powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek, who is vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission and Jong-un’s tutor, from the deal leader’s latest visits to factories and military installations.

The source said that the two men, who are top military officers, are “not going on these visits because they are busy preparing their mission. Let us not forget that visits to military sites are a basic tradition with which the Kim dynasty bonds with soldiers. They guarantee the continuity of the family’s power.”

Their absence means, “either they have fallen out favour or are getting ready to act independently from the dictator. Their fate is intertwined because Kim and Jang had to back each other after the death of Kim Jong-il to avoid vendettas within the family.”

In light of this, the importance of the upcoming meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao, his successor Xi Jinping and the third Kim becomes clear.

A summit of this sort was inevitable. North Korea survives economically and internationally only because of China’s goodwill. For the past six decades, Beijing has acted as Pyongyang’s mentor.

In the past few years, relations have cooled however. Kim Jong-il’s nuclear programme and his autarchic policies have irritated Beijing, which has repeatedly tried to tell the dictator who was boss.

Alternatively, the source told AsiaNews, “Kim Jong-un’s solo trip might be a summon from Hu, who has already written the father out of the picture. In this sense, Beijing might tie official recognition of Jong-un’s succession to him showing greater obedience. To do this, it might need just to scare him up close.”

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