Go to Contents Go to Navigation

N. Korea may send heir apparent to China to secure support: analyst

All Headlines 17:29 February 07, 2011

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea may attempt this year to arrange a visit by its leader-in-waiting to the country's foremost benefactor, China, in a bid to consolidate his power base and ease Pyongyang's economic hardships, the chief of a state-run think tank here said Monday.

"The biggest event for North Korea this year would be a trip to Beijing by Kim Jong-un alone," Nam Sung-wook, director of the Institute for National Security, said in a meeting with reporters, referring to the 20-something apparent successor to Kim Jong-il.

Nam, whose institute is overseen by the National Intelligence Service, predicted Pyongyang will fail to overcome its economic woes, saying that it will rather seek help by restoring denuclearization-for-aid talks and improving its ties with South Korea.

The key to achieving the goal could be winning the support of China, Nam said, while Kim Jong-un will likely be tasked with the job.

"If Kim can secure the resumption of six-party talks, he is likely to gain a higher position by publicizing his exploits," Nam said, adding Kim appears to be being groomed by actively engaging in all areas of state affairs.

Nam added that North Korea will likely credit Kim Jong-un if the country also succeeds in mending ties with South Korea and winning economic assistance from Seoul. Nam expected the hereditary power transition in North Korea will culminate around the birthday of the country's late founder, Kim Il-sung, in April next year.

Kim Il-sung is Kim Jong-un's grandfather. He died in 1994, passing the reign on to Kim Jong-il.

The relations between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, are at the worst point in years after the North shelled a South Korean island in November last year, killing four people.

The two sides are set this week to hold their first defense talks in months after the North proposed that they meet to discuss ways to defuse tension along their border. Analysts, including Nam, say the North appears to be stepping up its peace offensive amid deepening food shortages.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!