Jang Song Taek rumored to be in control

This seems speculative to me, however, the Daily Telegraph (London) is reporting that Kim Jong il’s brother in law, Jang Song Taek, is operating as the de facto decision-maker in the DPRK:

“Chang Sung Taek is now in control and is leading North Korea,” said Choi Jin Wook, of the (South Korean] government-affiliated Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul. “Other important figures consulted him, even when Kim Jong Il was OK. He will keep Kim Jong Il’s policy line even if he dies.”

Apart from his family connection to Mr Kim, Mr Chang is a cosmopolitan among North Korean cadres whose career bounced back from the brink of disaster just two years ago.

According to South Korea’s ministry of unification, he was educated at an elite school in Pyongyang, and married Mr Kim’s younger sister, Kim Kyong Hui, after studying in Moscow for three years.

He rose through the hierarchy to become head of the most powerful bureau of the Korean Workers’ Party’s, the “organisation and guidance department”. His older brother was the army general responsible for the defence of the capital itself.

In 2002, two years after a historic summit meeting between North and South, he led a delegation of senior officials on an unprecedented tour of South Korean industrial sites.

The most senior North Korean defector to the South, the former chief ideologue, Hwang Jang Yop, spoke of him as a potential successor to Mr Kim after a coup, and said that he was especially close to Kim Jong Nam, the dictator’s eldest son.

Perhaps because of his growing influence, Mr Chang was abruptly purged in 2004, and sent into internal exile. He reappeared in 2006 and last year a new and powerful post was created for him: head of the Party’s “administrative department”, in charge of the courts, the prosecutors, and the police – including those responsible for internal spying.

And in related news, it appears that the French doctor contacted by Kim Jong Nam (Kim Jong il’s eldest acknowledged son) did in fact visit Pyongyang, although he denies seeing Kim Jong il:

Japanese television identified a French brain surgeon who had recently visited Pyongyang – although he denied having treated Mr Kim. The Government has angrily denied that anything is wrong with him, and has released several photographs of him attending public events, none of which have quelled the growing consensus that he is ill.

If all this is true, and that is a big “if”, then this would seem to indicate that Jang and the Workers Party are set to lead the country when Kim finally reaches a stage where he is unable to make decisions.  

Read more here:
North Korea ‘is being run by Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law’
Daily Telegraph
Richard Lloyd Parry
11/8/2008

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