Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pyongyang leadership transfer to occur September 28?

Instead of relying on the Western media to tell us when North Korea's Workers Party will meet, followed by what it all means when they didn't meet when they were supposed to meet, maybe we should pay attention to what the KCNA is finally saying:
The Preparatory Committee for the Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea made public as follows as regards the party conference:

The meetings of delegates of the party committees of the Korean People's Army and provincial (political bureau), city (district) and county party committees took place to elect delegates to the conference of the WPK against the background of a high-pitched drive for effecting a new great revolutionary surge now under way on all fronts for building a thriving nation with the historic conference of the WPK and its 65th birthday approaching.

Blah blah blah something about unanimous will of the people...

More blah blah blah about patriotic devotion effecting a fresh revolutionary surge...

Blah blah blah everyone single-mindedly united around Kim Jong-il something something...

The conference of the WPK for electing its supreme leadership body will take place in Pyongyang on Sept. 28.
Note: Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 have been edited for length.

So the plan is to meet on Tuesday of next week. Got it? Maybe by then we'll know who has been picked to run the country. The betting window is still open. Most of the money is on Kim Jong-un, but I'm going on a limb here and picking the highly competent Kim Sŏlsong as a dark horse.

The Washington Post notes that despite all the spilled ink, there could have been legitimate, non-intrigue-related reasons for postponing this meeting:
South Korea's government attributed the delay to "internal reasons." Perhaps North Korea didn't want to hold its conference amid widespread problems caused by the typhoon. Perhaps, other experts guessed, Kim Jong Il - just back from an Aug. 26-30 trip to China - was dealing with health problems. Or maybe North Korea needed extra time to debate policy changes.
And the WaPo admits that all these stories about North Korea are constructed around a few pieces of data that are often a bit flimsy or suspect:
Even the notion that Kim Jong Eun will succeed his father relies mostly on opaque clues. One Seoul-based media group with contacts in the North, Open Radio for North Korea, believes that 10 million portraits of the son have already been printed, ready for distribution. Children in Korea have reportedly been signing a song, "Footsteps," that honors Kim Jong Eun. During a speech in China, Kim Jong Il made reference to the "rising generation."
Though many folks think the Kim Jong-un ascension is a done deal, I think we may be in for a few surprises. And whether he is picked, his uncle is made regent, a different sibling is chosen, or the Workers Party finally turns the Kims into figureheads and starts running the country PRC-style, I think we'll see Chinese-style reforms in North Korea's future.

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