Signs in North point to Kim’s third son being heir

by Alex Martin

Students in North Korea are singing songs in praise of Kim Jong Il’s third son and potential successor, Kim Jong Un, a recently obtained report said, indicating that a full-scale power shift may be on as news of the North Korean leader’s ailing health fuels speculation over who will lead the reclusive state in the days ahead.

Lee Young Hwa, head of Osaka-based activist organization Rescue the North Korean People! (RENK) said he had received word from a “collaborator” in the North who reported that when a group of elementary school children on a street corner in Pyongyang were asked what they were singing, they replied it was a song about Kim Jong Un.

The students said they were forced to practice the song all day long instead of taking their regular classes, and could not return home until they had thoroughly memorized it.

“The fact that schools are teaching students to sing such songs is tantamount to officially declaring the heir (to North Korea),” the report said.

The students recalled, with some uncertainty, that the lessons began in early May. The songs include passages such as “with crisp steps,” and “the general of Mount Paektu,” besides specifically naming Kim Jong Un. Mount Paektu, a stratovolcano on the China-North Korea border, is a sacred place in Korean culture. North Korea claims that the late President Kim Il Sung fought Japanese colonialist forces on its slopes.

The report also states North Korean troops were ordered to shout slogans in praise of Jong Un. “Let’s protect Gen. Kim Jong Un — the young general, the morning star general who inherits the bloodline of Paektu — with all our hearts” goes one slogan, according to the report.

Little is known about Kim Jong Il’s youngest son. His late mother, Ko Yong Hee, was one of Kim’s consorts. He is around 26 and attended an international school in Switzerland.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on Jan. 15 reported that Kim Jong Il appointed Kim Jong Un as his successor, and Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese who was Kim Jong Il’s former chef, has appeared on Japanese television saying Jong Un was favored by his father over his older brother, Jong Chol, for his strong leadership skills, and that he looked very similar to his father.

Kim Jong Nam, the oldest of Kim’s three sons, has in the past made clear to foreign media that he was not interested in the top slot, and was not his father’s choice for the job.

“With that father and that son, what is there to look up to?” the report obtained from RENK cites local residents as saying among themselves since talk of Jong Un’s succession emerged.

Mocking the myth that Jong Un is a genius who graduated from seven universities, the report said residents joked that if that was true, he would have had to attend school since he was in his mother’s womb, since North Korea has a five-year university system.