Wed, Sep 15, 2010 - Page 4 News List

China backs son of Kim Jong-il: Seoul spy chief

HEIR APPARENTSouth Korea’s national intelligence director told parliament that Kim had gained Beijing’s support for handing over the reins to his youngest son


North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has won support from key ally China for a second father-to-son succession, South Korea’s spy chief was reported yesterday as saying.

National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Won Sei-hoon, quoted by the Chosun Ilbo, also said Kim might have taken his heir apparent and youngest son, Kim Jong-un, on his secretive trip to China late last month. Won was addressing a closed session of parliament’s intelligence committee on Monday. The newspaper was quoting lawmakers at the meeting.

Yonhap news agency carried a similar report.

“In terms of securing aid, Kim [Jong-il]’s visit to China was not so successful. However, it was a considerable achievement that he got the succession plan recognized,” the agency quoted Won as saying.

Asked whether the NIS believed Kim Jong-il had been accompanied by his son, Won said: “Isn’t it possible to see it like that, judging from the places he visited?”

Kim and his entourage made a pilgrimage to places in northeastern China linked to his own father and North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, who led a band of anti-­Japanese guerrillas. The visits were seen as a bid to confer legitimacy on another dynastic succession.

A meeting scheduled for this month of the North’s ruling party is expected to pave the way for an eventual succession. However, there have been no reports that the conference, the nation’s most important political gathering for 30 years, is under way.

One media report has said the apparent delay is due to the 68-year-old leader’s health problems.

However, Won said the meeting was likely to take place this week. He noted that the North had announced in June that it would take place this month in a period known as sangsun.

Some experts say the term in North Korea refers to the first half of a month.

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