Posted by: mulrickillion | December 22, 2011

The Generals Who Will Really Rule North Korea

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Kim Jong Un shakes hands with generals after paying his respects to his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, in this still picture, taken from video footage aired by Korean Central TV of the North on Dec. 20, 2011. KRT / Reuters.

By Bill Powell, Dec 22, 2011 — The policy under Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s late Dear Leader, could not have had a name that was more straightforward: "military first politics." For most of Kim’s 17-year reign as dictator, North Korea’s military — the Korean People’s Army, or KPA — got pretty much whatever it wanted. Even during the crippling famine, which killed tens of thousands in the late ’90s, food was diverted to the military. Better a soldier with a full stomach, even if almost everyone else were starving, Kim seemed to think. "His position toward the military was one of weakness," says Christopher Hill, formerly the chief U.S. negotiator to the six-party nuclear talks.

Little wonder, then, that nearly everyone who tries to figure out what is happening in the world’s most isolated regime believes that, in the wake of Kim’s sudden death on Dec. 17, it is the military brass who will be firmly in control of the country, even as the young Kim Jong Un formally becomes what the Koreans call the suryong (supreme leader). . . .

The military’s powerful position in North Korean society can hardly be overestimated. Not only is it the overseer of the country’s nuclear program — the ultimate guarantor of Pyongyang’s security — but it is also its largest employer. There are over 1.1 million soldiers in the KPA’s five branches, or nearly 20% of the male population between the ages of 17 and 54. It is also, therefore, the country’s most powerful economic entity, the largest consumer of goods in the country as well as an exporter of missiles and nuclear technology via the shadowy Second Economic Committee, run by a man about whom little is known in the outside word — Park Se Bong — except for his reputed close ties with the ruling Kim clan. "Again, the boy would not be in this position if people like Park had strenuously objected," says the intelligence source. . . .

N. Korea: Military Generals Real Rulers, not Kim Jong Un – TIME

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