A prediction has been made that the successor to Kim Jong Il will be publicly appointed only after doing the job of “Organizing Secretary,” just like Kim Jong Il became the official successor to Kim Il Sung, at age thirty-two, after he too was the Organizing Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party.
Cheong Seong Chang, a researcher of South-North relations at the Sejong Institute, stated the claim in his paper entitled “North Korean domestic political change during the era of Kim Jong Il: the leadership ideology, succession and the leadership of the Party”, which will be released at a conference co-sponsored by the Korean Political Science Association, the Korean Association of International Studies and the Korean Association of Area Studies on the 21st.
According to the paper, regarding the choosing of the successor, the year 2012, the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, when Kim Jong Il will be seventy, is a significant year. In 2012 Kim Jong Cheol, who is the most prominent candidate to be Kim Jong Il’s successor as well as being his second son, will be thirty one years old.
Researcher Cheong predicts in the paper that “In his time, Kim Jong Il was in essence appointed as successor by being selected as the Organizing Secretary and Director of the Guidance Department of the Central Committee of the Party. Therefore, it may be necessary to grant the position of the Guidance Department director and the Organizing Secretary of the Central Committee to his potential successor, if Kim Jong Il wants to establish a leadership system for his successor. In the foreseeable future, Kim Jong Il’s successor may well take these positions, and thus be appointed successor.
However, the paper releases a further prediction for the post-Kim Jong Il period: If Kim Jong Il retires early due to health problems or loses power in a coup, a possibility that the ruling system may be changed into a group leadership system, in which the highest commander’s power would inevitably be undermined, is high. Whoever dominates the country, their degree of authority wouldn’t be as great as that of Kim Jong Il.
In the paper, there is also a specific explanation of Kim Jong Il’s influence during his time as the successor to Kim Il Sung until the time of Kim Il Sung’s death.
Kim Jong Il occupied the position of the Organizing Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, in which he took the authority to implement personnel management decisions on the entire political elite. Therefore, he was able to exercise his authority, with as much influence as Kim Il Sung, although he had not taken office as the top Secretary of the Party.
Furthermore, Kim Il Sung had transferred most of his authority to Kim Jong Il and had built supporting foundations and the leadership system for his son by the time he died. Therefore, Kim Jong Il could reign in North Korea even though he was not the secretary of the Party for three years after Kim Il Sung dying.
The paper released former Secretary of North Korean International Affairs of the Party Hwang Jang Yop’s comments on the succession. Hwang explained that “The succession was practically completed when Kim Jong Il seized the position of Organizing Secretary of the Party. Although the position of the Organizing Secretary is significant, South Korean researchers on North Korea do not acknowledge it properly.”