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Kim Jong Chol - Leadership Succession

Kim Jong Chol [Kim Jong Chul], Kim Jong Il's 23-year-old second son [apparently born around 1981], is considered by some to be the leader's chosen successor. But a younger son assuming control ahead of the eldest would be a major, and potentially destabilizing, departure from Confucian ethos.

He attended school in Switzerland. He has a post at the Worker's Party's Central Committee Leadership Division, where Kim Jong Il trained to succeed Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-Chol reportedly began work at the propaganda and agitation division of the Workers Party after studying at an international school in the Swiss city of Bern. According to one South Korean magazine report, he is said to be a fan of the US National Basketball Association, and had his father build basketball courts at their villas around the country.

In a 15 February 2003 Kyodo News reported that efforts had begun to propagate a cult around North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's current [third] and only known legal wife, Ko Yong Hee [Ko Yong-hi]. The news report was based on an internal military document obtained by Kyodo News from "reliable sources." The propaganda was seen as indicating the start of preparations to groom Kim Jong Chol, Kim Jong Il's 23-year-old second son born from Ko, as the leader's successor.

A similar campaign had been created for Kim Jong-il's long-deceased mother, Kim Jong-suk, ahead of his succession.

In a "Lecture Document" entitled "We shall defend to the death the high command of the revolution led by great comrade Kim Jong Il" published by the Korean People's Army in August 2002 as a restricted document, Ko is lauded in terms as a "mother." The document states that "The esteemed mother (Ko) is the most loyal among the endlessly loyal to the revered supreme commander comrade (Kim Jong Il)." She is commended on par with Kim Jong Il's mother Kim Jong Sook, considered one of the country's "three generals" along with the leader and his father. The Lecture Document cited many examples of Ko accompanying Kim Jong Il on inspections of the military and his "On-Site Guidance" tours." It gave examples of how well she understands and looks after the safety and health of the leader.

Koh Yong Hee was said to be aged around 50. She had been previously kept from the public eye. Her existence had only recently emerged in South Korean and Japanese media. Intelligence sources depicted her as a former prima donna in North Korea's song-and-dance troupe. She was reported to have moved from Japan to the north in the early 1960s with her father, a judo master born on the southern Korean island of Cheju. There were reports in October 2003 that Ko Yong-hui had been critically injured in a car accident, while other reports claimed that she was suffering from breast cancer.

On 17 January 2009 a source inside the ROK Ministry of Unification (MoU) stated "The succession issue generates diverse rumors, but nothing is confirmed. We have not heard of an instruction appointing Jong Woon as successor to Kim Jong Il being transmitted to the Guidance Department of the Party." Kim Jong Il's second son, Jong Cheol, who was said at one stage to be suffering from narcotics addition, in addition to abnormal testosterone levels and other undesirable health conditions, was allegedly being supported in the succession battle by the First Vice Directors of the Guidance Department Lee Jeh Gang and Lee Yong Cheol. Some reports claim that Jong Woon has serious hypertension and diabetes.



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