Kim Jong Un succession watch

There were a few new reports (or “rumors,” if you prefer) on the Kim Jong Un front this week. First, the South Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim Jong Il’s presumed successor may have been “elected” to parliament last year from the numerologically significant Constituency 216: JoongAng Ilbo also said the constituency No. 216 ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images
YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images
YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images

There were a few new reports (or "rumors," if you prefer) on the Kim Jong Un front this week. First, the South Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim Jong Il's presumed successor may have been "elected" to parliament last year from the numerologically significant Constituency 216:

JoongAng Ilbo also said the constituency No. 216 has a special meaning in North Korea as Kim Jong Il's birthday falls on Feb. 16. It said the Western source spoke during a meeting Monday with journalists in Seoul. The source said the North appeared to have deliberately hid the son's election, according to Dong-a Ilbo.

The list of North Korea's 687 parliamentary members that state media released after the elections included the name of Kim Jong but it was not officially confirmed whether the person is the son using an alias, the paper said.

There were a few new reports (or “rumors,” if you prefer) on the Kim Jong Un front this week. First, the South Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim Jong Il’s presumed successor may have been “elected” to parliament last year from the numerologically significant Constituency 216:

JoongAng Ilbo also said the constituency No. 216 has a special meaning in North Korea as Kim Jong Il’s birthday falls on Feb. 16. It said the Western source spoke during a meeting Monday with journalists in Seoul. The source said the North appeared to have deliberately hid the son’s election, according to Dong-a Ilbo.

The list of North Korea’s 687 parliamentary members that state media released after the elections included the name of Kim Jong but it was not officially confirmed whether the person is the son using an alias, the paper said.

For what it’s worth, a source at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service cast doubt on the report.

Today, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun reports that the North Korean media has begun using the code word “Party Center,” which likely refers Kim Jong Un: 

In an editorial on Wednesday about a Politburo meeting in September, the Rodong Sinmun, the organ paper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, said, “We must defend with our lives the party’s Politburo meeting attended by our Great Comrade Kim Jong Il and rally in support around the Party Center.”

The term “Party Center” first appeared in an editorial in the Rodong Shinmun in February 1974 after Kim Jong Il was anointed to succeed Kim Il Sung, and has been rarely used since the elder Kim’s death in 1994.

There are also reports that elementary school students have begun singing a song called “Footsteps” dedicated to the Dear Leader-in-Waiting. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.