Wednesday, January 18, 2012

North Korea officials stand by Kim Jong-un

A senior North Korean official dismissed concerns about Kim Jong-un's readiness to lead, saying he spent years working closely with his late father and helping him make key policy decisions on economic and military affairs.

In the first interview with foreign journalists by a high-level North Korean official since Kim Jong-il's Dec. 17 death, Politburo member and Kim family confidante Yang Hyong Sop told The Associated Press that North Koreans were in good hands with their young new leader.

He emphasised an unbroken continuity from father to son that suggests a continuation of Kim Jong-il's key policies.

"We suffered the greatest loss in the history of our nation as a result of the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of the great leader Kim Jong-il," he said in the interview Monday at Mansudae Assembly Hall, seat of the North Korean legislative body.

"But still, we are not worried a bit," he added, "because we know that we are being led by comrade Kim Jong-un, who is fully prepared to carry on the heritage created by the great Gen. Kim Jong-il."

Despite Yang's assertion of a lengthy behind-the-scenes role for Kim Jong-un, the world was introduced to the heir only in September 2010, prior to which he had been kept out of the public eye for most of his life. Though still in his 20s, he was quickly promoted to four-star general and named a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea. Read More