Thursday, April 4, 2013

UPDATED: Kim Jong-un: Can US trust North Korea leader to act rationally?

(Note:  I have added some additional information below to illustrate the nature of the Kim family Regime)

It is interesting to read all this speculation about infighting and whether Kim Jong-un is in control or not and relationships among the regime, military and the party.  It really is simple as a Korea hand very succinctly put it to me just last evening:
The Kim Family Regime controls all things, and they use the institutions of the military and the party to do it - with the security services monitoring everybody.
But we should really understand is that the Kim Family Regime is composed of military and party leadership.  We should not think of them as separate entities.  The regime controls the military, party, and security services because their leadership is part of the core elements of the Kim Family Regime and everyone "gets ahead"  (or survives) by demonstrating personal loyalty to Kim Jong-un.


Here is a tutorial using recent photos of the regime from another Korea Hand to illustrate that the military and the party are an integral part of the regime.  This is why all the talk of the military being at odds with Kim Jong-un or Kim Jong-un having to prove himself to the military does not really wash with how the Kim Family Regime operates.  You cannot separate the party, military and government from the regime.

The people in this picture are the party central committee (CC).  This is their 31 March plenary session.  These people are the enablers of the regime...people hired to carry out what the top leadership want.  Their number varies with attrition and new appointments, but is about 140, plus about 120 candidate members.  They receive enormous privileges for being supporters of the regime as CC members.  The bennies, the bennies, the bennies.

These are the people who are the leaders -- the politburo and leaders of the party sitting in front of the CC members.  There are no secrets here.  Anybody can see this.  The politburo is a mixture of party, military and government.  Notice there are 3 military to the right and one at the podium, who is probably Choi Yong-hae, Director of the General Political Bureau, political watchdogs of the military.  He is party guy, not a military guy, though he wears a military uniform.   The empty seat for the military officer at the podium is located to the right with the other military officers. They are there for a reason -- there is military influence and participation in decision-making.  The front row of four next to the podium left to right are Kim Ki-nam, Party Secretary for propaganda; KJU's aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, Director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department that has absolute control of the personal lives of everybody in the room; Choe Yong-nim, Cabinet Premier; and Kim Yong-nam, Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium. Directly behind Kim Yong-nam is Pak Do-chun, Party head of the nuclear and missile programs and the one responsible to coordinate funding, political reliability and security...not engineering.  They have plenty of scientists for that and the military gives them the specifications of how capabilities work into the military arsenal.  Party guys do not do that because they are party guys...the ones that make things happen. To Pak's right appears to be Yang Hyong-sop, vice to Kim Yong-nam and married to a cousin of Kim Il-sung. The man sitting in the back row next to the two military officers to the far right is Choe Tae Bok, Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly.  The man in front of him is Chang Song-taek, KJU's uncle by marriage and husband of Kim Kyong-hui, KJU aunt as mentioned.  Chang is the string puller.  The general next to him is MinisterPeople's Armed Forces (Minister of Defense) GEN Kim Kyok-sik. Not sure about the guy behind Kim Ki-nam or the guy to the far right in the picture. 
All of these people should be the targets of our priority strategic PSYOP .
Kim Jong-un: Can US trust North Korea leader to act rationally?

Kim Jong-un isn't the first North Korean leader to use threats for political gain. But the West doesn't really know what of make of him because of his youth and the uncertainty that shrouds the country.

By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer / April 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm EDT

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s saber-rattling rhetoric and threats to restart his nuclear program could be a rational move to garner more in the way of concessions in the world community and much-needed political street-credentials among the populace and troops he commands.

But just how confident can Pentagon officials be about whether Mr. Kim is a rational actor?

Could he, in fact, be young, reckless, without great political savvy and in grave danger of making a move that could set off a chain of events – including an inadvertent war – with dire consequences?

“We’ve seen some historical trajectory here on where North Korea occasionally will go to try to get the attention of the United States, to try to maneuver us into some position favorably to them, whether it’s more assistance or bilateral engagement,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a press conference last week. 

“But the fact is that this is the wrong way to go. The action that he’s taken and the actions they’ve taken and the words he’s used, it is not going to project a more responsible, accountable relationship.”

That seems evident. But how clear is it that Kim knows what he’s doing, anyway? And is he, in fact, the one in charge? Or could he be vying for power with, say, North Korean military leaders? 

On this question, Mr. Hagel appeared, publicly at least, to have little interest in a North Korean version of Kremlinology. “Well, he’s the leader,” he said. “I mean, he’s the leader of North Korea.” 

Defense analysts say that there are indeed some hints that Kim may be losing his hold on the military.
There have been defections of small units of North Korean soldiers to China – soldiers who were subsequently turned around and sent back to North Korea, says retired Brig. Gen. Russell Howard, former commander of the 1st Special Forces Group, which has an Asia Focus.

This may seem like a positive development, but it is a problem because it means that Kim may feel the need to reassert his control over the military, by beating the war drum and trying to get his troops to rally around it. The more he needs their support, the harder he might beat the drum.

The rehabilitation of Kim Young-choi, who was responsible for sinking the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan in 2010, which killed 46 seamen, is another clue, says General Howard, who is now the director of the Terrorism, Research, and Education Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

It could signal that Kim Jong-un is taking a harder military line, since Kim Young-choi is also believed to have coordinated cyberattacks on South Korean firms, as well as an assassination attempt on a high-ranking North Korean defector. 

“It seems that a more aggressive clique now has influence over Kim,” Howard says.

Indeed, plenty of questions remains about just what Kim’s relationship is to the military, says Victor Cha, director of Asian Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies inWashington.
(Continued at the link below)

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