Infighting Among Kim Jong-il Sons Expected
The LFNKR office has continued to receive intermittent calls from our local staff member in North Korea. Even though that country remains on high alert, the following report was received on the 23rd. People in the Onsong area of North Hamgyong have already begun discussing who will succeed Kim Jong-il. A common remark is that “Kim Jong-un is too young to run the country.”
Others worry about the country’s preparedness, wondering “will North Korea really be able to fight South Korea when we have hardly any material supplies?” A typical statement is “our nation is supposed to be powerful, but we have almost nothing.” These comments are made self-mockingly, and no honorific titles are used.
Everyone is obviously feeling insecure about their own future as well as their country’s. Nevertheless, they are maintaining calm for now, since they appear unwilling to deal with anything unexpected during the mourning period.
Since Kim Jong-un is not as popular as his father, most people expect the succession to be up for grabs among the sons, including the eldest, Jong-nam, the second son, Jong-chol, and other possibly hidden children once the mourning period is over.
Although the Labor Party has declared that people should maintain their regular daily activities and continue doing business in the markets, most North Koreans are afraid to engage in business right now. This is because those who did business at the markets during the mourning period following Kim Il-Sung’s death 1994 were all arrested. Hence, people are refraining from such activities for the coming birthday of Kim Jong-il’s mother on the 24th.
North Korean border guards normally make money by allowing people to illegally leave the country. People familiar with these matters are whispering that the border guards now cannot make money during the mourning period, but that once the mourning is past, they can once again allow many people to illegally cross into China. Some brokers specializing in this business privately admit that it is always possible to arrange such matters, even despite the mourning.