The Kims: Like Grandfather, Like Son?

“Much of what is known about the younger Kim has been gleaned in only the last three years, because before Kim Jong Il suffered what is believed to be a stroke in August 2008, he had never been seen in public before,” reports Canada’s CTV.

But what role Kim Jong Un has played in preparing to take over his country’s leadership is unknown; there isn’t even a record that he has served in his country’s military.

Nevertheless, the country insists he graduated from Kim Il Sung Military University and in the fall of 2010, he was made a four-star general. [He also received] a vice chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Committee [Commission, usually -- RW], which had been overseen by his father. [Also, the anointed heir was given the title] … “Young General.”

Yesterday at Focal Points, Greg Chaffin pointed out:

Jong-il’s policy of promoting the military over all other national interests was instrumental in his ability to first consolidate and maintain power and has left the military as a major power broker in the succession. This was a major reason behind Jong-un’s elevation to four-star general and a senior position on the National Defense Commission [former ruling body of the Central Military Commission -- RW]. … Indeed, the stability of North Korea will likely hinge upon the decisions made by the military and their willingness to accept the accession of Kim Jong-un.

As for North Korea’s direction, Chaffin writes;

It is likely, however, that Kim Jong-il’s death will presage a pronounced shift away from the slight thawing in relations with the international community as the DPRK focuses on internal issues; in effect, placing a hold on external matters as it did following the death of Kim Il-sung.

But what inquiring minds really want to know is whether the third-generation Kim will be swathed in a personality cult as his father and grandfather were. In fact, it appears we may see a case of like — if not father — grandfather. In October of 2010 the Telegraph reported:

The speculation began in South Korea after the release last week of the first official photographs of the 27-year-old son of Kim Jong-il. The images show a chubby, nervous looking young man sitting in the front row of a packed auditorium as he was named vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party and a four-star general. In the images, the family resemblance between Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-un is obvious. The youngest in the Kim dynasty has the same chubby cheeks as his grandfather, a double chin and the familiar mouth that turns down at the ends. He also apparently favours his predecessor’s preference for having his hair cut very short at the sides and swept back on top.

The images are in stark contrast to previous photographs, which depict Kim as a slender teenager who looks nothing like his paternal grandfather.

South Korean newspapers suggested that in the intervening years he had undergone surgery to boost his standing with the public.

The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported that Pyongyang was hoping to cement Kim’s position as the country’s next leader through a “reincarnation of North Korea’s late founder.”

Those whose hopes were pinned on Jong-un becoming the un-Kim will likely see them dashed. He not only sounds like just another Kim, but potentially even more so.