NK People Uncertain Over New Leader’s Status


Kim Jong-un Depends on Regency of Chang Sung-taek

People in Onsong are saying that the recent conditions in North Korea remind them of the “Arduous March” back in the late 1970s.  There was a serious shortage of food then too. On Jan. 23, which is New Year’s day on the old calendar, the People’s Committee of Onsong County issued an order to distribute one 450-ml bottle of Shochu (distilled 20% proof spirits) per household.  Some troops received food rations on Jan. 2.

It has been an unusually cold winter and people are witnessing many more fires resulting from people trying to get warm.  Of particular note are the many fires breaking out in school buildings, dormitories and government facilities. These include the Art Institute located in North Hamgyong Province and the vocational mechanical college located in Onsong county.

The people of North Korea are apparently feeling insecure about their future, which naturally leads to conversations about politics.  Their conversations center on the food shortage and on Chang Sung-taek, who is the vice-chairman of National Defense Commission, now backing up the new leader Kim Jong-un.

One frequently heard comment is: “The international community has always seen Kim Jong-il as a dictator and they have stopped supplying food to help us.” Another common remark is: “Kim Jong-un is too young to be a successful leader.  He has no political experience and is already failing to secure food aid from other countries.”

People usually conclude by agreeing that “Chang Sung-taek is serving as a regent, just as they did for the Chinese Emperors in the old days.”  Most people in North Korea do not believe that Kim Jong-un, now the North Korea Supreme Commander, is really heading the regime, but rather that Chang Sung-taek has actually taken over as the de facto ruler.

Report from LFNKR local staff in Onsong,
North Hamgyong Province, North Korea