'Supreme commander' is a canny
fox By Kim Myong Chol
Crows inhabiting mountains, Don't
cry over a dead body. Though the body is gone,
The spirit of revolution survives. -
Dirge repeatedly played in North
My wife Ku Sun-dok was among
the first overseas Korean mourners and the first
Korean from Japan to visit the Kumsusan Memorial
Palace December 20. There she paid her last respects
to the late supreme leader
Kim Jong-il lying in state, and shook hands with
new Supreme Leader Kim Jong-eun.
Jong-il died of a heart attack, compounded by a
great mental and physical strain at 08:30 am
December 17 while on a train to its Korea's
Silicon Valley in snow-bound Huichon, Jagang
He had called the mountainous
province "my second hometown". Its capital,
Kanggye provisionally served as capital of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
While in Pyongyang, Ku Sun-dok saw
seemingly endless lines of flower-carrying
mourners from all walks of life repeatedly visit
mourning stations - an estimated 30,000 were set
up across the country. Braving inclement winter
conditions, the people prayed for the immortality
of the late peerless patriot and national hero.
She was deeply moved at the sight of the
entire North Korean population, despite the
spontaneous, wild outpourings of sheer grief,
share a firm resolve to rally rock-firm behind new
Supreme Leader Kim Jong-eun. The people are all
determined to protect the outstanding successor at
the risk of their lives and uphold his leadership
and build an economic power, fulfilling the policy
goals of the late Kim Jong-il.
She is sure
that albeit somewhat belatedly, the world will
realize that Kim Jong-eun is cut out to be a third
Kim Il-sung-class statesman, the factor which
figures as the most decisive guarantee of North
Korea's eventual emergence as a thriving nation
and of the peaceful reintegration of the ancestral
Korean Peninsula through quiet neutralization of
the United States presence in South Korea.
A regular member of the two elite clubs of
space and nuclear powers, North Korea is certain
to cross into the threshold of the club of
affluent nations in 2012, despite the absence of a
peace treaty or full diplomatic ties with the
declining superpower US.
man shining out with aura Before
reverentially walking round the glass bier of the
late Kim Jong-il, Ku Sun-dok found herself bowing
in awe and piety before Kim Jong-eun, who stood,
shining out among North Korean top officials as
the sole figure enhaloed with an aura.
Jong-eun is not the first North Korean leader to
be seen emanating aura. Wendy Sherman, a former
senior State Department official, noted a similar
ambience around Kim Jong-il when she visited
Pyongyang with former secretary of state Madeleine
Albright in October 2000.
described Kim Jong-il in 2008 as "smart, engaged,
knowledgeable, self-confident, sort of the
master-director of all he surveyed".
precise, Kim Jong-eun is a heaven-sent sun-like
entity as was Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung, and
Jumong, the founder of a the ancient Korean
kingdom Koguryo more 2, 300 years ago, and Dankun,
founder of ancient Korea 5,000 years ago.
Ku Sun-dok said: "For the first time in my
65 years of life I personally met with an enhaloed
man. Indeed, the Korean people are fortunate
enough to have a heaven-sent sun-like figure as
their great leader, succeeding the peerless
national hero and patriot Kim Jong-il."
Foreign intelligence in the dark for 51
hours The proverb "Ignorance is bliss"
seems to ring true for US intelligence on North
Korea, which seems to be always at least 10 years
behind the real picture.
respected Kim Jong-eun handled splendidly the
passing of the Dear Leader in an way that
unmistakably establishes him as another canny fox,
no less smart, seasoned and sophisticated than his
two predecessors, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.
As a matter of course, Kim Jong-eun has an
old head on his young shoulders.
the American and other foreign intelligence were
more than nonplussed and disconcerted as were kept
totally in the dark about Kim Jong-il's death for
51 hours, until the official announcement.
This adds insult to injury for the US
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other
foreign intelligence services. Highly-touted
American satellites also failed dismally to detect
a huge uranium enrichment plant housing thousands
of high-performance centrifuges in the middle of
the Yongbyon nuclear complex, the construction of
which took place on Kim Jong-eun's watch.
This testifies beyond doubt that when it
comes down to outwitting high-tech-equipped
American and other foreign intelligence, Kim
Jong-eun is second to none. Little wonder, he
graduated from the Department of Physics of Kim
Il-sung University summa cum laude.
Bloomberg commented on December 21: "If
Stalin's Russia was 'a riddle, wrapped in a
mystery, inside an enigma', as Winston Churchill
described it in 1939, Kim Jong-eun's North Korea
72 years later is an even more inscrutable
The Los Angeles
Times reported December 24: "The latest evidence:
US officials apparently were unaware for 51 hours
that longtime leader Kim Jong Il had died."
The New York Times wrote December 20:
For South Korean and American
intelligence services to have failed to pick up
any clues to this momentous development -
panicked phone calls between government
officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr
Kim's train - attests to the secretive nature of
North Korea, a country not only at odds with
most of the world but also sealed off from it in
a way that defies spies or satellites.
While the CIA long suspected that North
Korea was working on a second pathway to a bomb
- uranium enrichment - it never found the
facilities. Then, last year, a Stanford
University scientist was given a tour of a
plant, in the middle of the Yongbyon complex,
which American satellites monitor constantly. It
is not clear why satellite surveillance failed
to detect construction on a large scale at the
The failure to pick up signs of
turmoil is especially disconcerting for people
in South Korea. The South's capital, Seoul, is
only 35 miles from the North Korean border, and
the military is on constant alert for a surprise
Yet in the 51 hours from the
apparent time of Mr Kim's death until the
official announcement of it, South Korean
officials appeared to detect nothing
As far back as September 26,
1994, 10 months before the passing of the founding
father Kim Il-sung, the Washington Post reported
on the difficulty of US intelligence profilers in
reaching consensus about Kim Jong Il, that is,
about whether he was crazy or a canny fox - a wily
"Kim also is largely an enigma
to Washington. US intelligence analysts had
difficulty reaching a consensus about Kim while
preparing a recent, classified psychological
profile of him for policymakers."
little we know suggests he makes his father look
like a moderate by comparison," said former under
secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. "We are
dealing with extremely tough characters."
Highly experienced mature
statesman Secondly, the nature of the great
leader's passing has been handled in a highly
choreographed manner by hewing to the traditional
cultural standards is another compelling evidence
that Kim Jong-il is a highly experienced, mature
Wild and hysterical as
emotional Korean scenes of mass crying and wailing
may appear to the outside world, this is genuine
grief at the loss of a most admired long-time
fatherly leader. Western difficulty understanding
of Korean culture is quite understandable since
Western society is based on exchange values and
Dating back to Koguryo's,
Koryo's and Yi's Korea, the national leader has
been a benevolent sagacious fatherly figure. Every
Korean is his child and his top priority is to
take care of his children while his children must
do everything to be filial to him.
Korean people, the unexpected passing of such a
respected leader is like the sky has collapsed and
heaven is cruel.
Kim Jong-eun let Korea's
cultural tradition to run its course, providing
the Korean people with a rare occasion for
national catharsis. The entire people were allowed
to act by cultural instinct by giving full vein to
their spontaneous grief. It completed the
important rite of passage, facilitating mutual
empathy and identification between the masses of
people and the great successor.
distinctive aspect of the unconstrained public
expressions of sadness and grief is the
undercurrent of relief at the availability of
another Kim Il-sung-like great leader, as well as
a widely shared sense of indebtedness to the late
supreme leader for leaving Kim Jong-eun to lead
them to security and prosperity at the time of
hostile relations with the US.
York Times reported December 21:
Contrived as they might look to
Western eyes, the wild expressions of grief at
funerals - the convulsive sobbing, fist pounding
and body-shaking bawling - are an accepted part
of Korean Confucian culture, and can be
witnessed at the funerals of the famous and the
not famous alike in South Korea.
a catharsis paves the way for mass grief and tears
of blood to settle into ten-thousand-fold
strength, hopes and renewed unanimous calls for
the heir designate Kim Jong-eun to take the
official reins as their supreme leader as soon as
possible and lead them to carry on the
juche or "self-reliance", revolutionary
cause of juche.
In a total
departure from the past practice, Kim Jong-il
ordered the December 28 state funeral for the late
Kim Jong-il and the December 29 memorial service
to be live broadcast and its video clippings
posted on websites and YouTube.
repeated public calls from the mourners across the
country for the installation of Kim Jong-il as
supreme leader were accommodated in two events
One was the national memorial
service in which Kim Jong-eun was proclaimed "the
supreme leader of our party and army and people as
he fully personified the ideas and leadership,
personality, virtues, grit and courage of Kim
The other was a plenary meeting
of the political bureau of the ruling Workers'
Party of Korea (WPK), which unanimously named Kim
Jong-eun as supreme commander of the nuclear-armed
forces in accordance with the October 8 will of
the late Kim Jong-il.
His January 1 visit
to the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division
of the Korean People's Army leaves little doubt in
the eyes of the Korean people and the world
audience that Kim Jong-eun is the country's
military chief, commanding absolute respect and
authority within the armed forces, not only among
rank and file but also the top brass.
Another important fact that the West is
unaware of is that Kim Jong-eun has been around
for more than 10 years as a low-profile leader in
waiting, demonstrating he has what it takes to be
an outstanding leader, peerless national hero and
brilliant iron-willed commander.
studying and practicing the Kim Il-sung-class art
of national stewardship, young Kim Jong-eun earned
the admiration of senior officials of the Workers'
Party of Korea and the armed forces.
well as majoring in Physics at Kim Il-sung
University he also studied long-range artillery
and missile strikes at Kim Il-sung Military
University. After graduation, he started as a
second lieutenant with personal details kept
private. He quickly distinguished himself in his
own right, proving to be a military wizard and
becoming a four-star general, giving rise to a
song praising his leadership. It was well before
he was officially promoted to that rank in a
retroactive procedure in September 2010.
The West is totally unaware that Kim
Jong-eun took over operational command of the
Korean People's Army as early as December 2008, as
acting supreme commander of the Korean People's
Wherever the supreme leader Kim
Jong-il went on field tours to military units,
schools, factories, and farms, the young leader
accompanied him, but the Korean Central News
Agency took every care to edit him out of all the
photos released to the public.
North Korea Is a far cry from 1994 North Korea The North Korea Kim Jong-il has bequeathed in
2011 to his heir Kim Jong-eun and his people is
incomparably better off than one the former
inherited in 1994. This goes a long way toward to
explaining the near-universal optimism and
confidence expressed by the Korean people, who
were deeply aggrieved by the unexpected passing
away of their fatherly leader.
North Korea is a full-fledged nuclear power
capable of singlehandedly coping with any
pre-emptive American strike, conventional or
nuclear. North Korea is capable of carrying any
provoked war all the way to the mainland US and
turning it into a theater of nuclear exchange.
On the other hand, in 1994 North Korea
lacked nuclear capabilities and was vulnerable to
nuclear-emptive strikes by the US.
superpower US is now a moribund power, unable to
pay its debts, feed its people or take care of its
troops and veterans.
North Korea stands
out as the first state to win a total war with the
US and survive more than half a century of nuclear
blackmail, isolation, criminalizing sanctions and
regime change attempts.
Kim Jong-eun is one click away from vaporizing US
carrier battle groups in the Korean waters and the
Pacific, military bases in South Korea, Japan,
Hawaii and bases and metropolitan centers in the
American mainland. As a matter of course, New
York, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los
Angeles are sitting ducks for nuclear-tipped North
Jong-il North Korea is en route to a thriving
nation status, reliant on its own indigenous high
technology and resources for domestic manufacture
of super-computers, multi-spindle sophisticated
CNC machine tools, power generators, and micro
Its wide array of
products include video games, animation,
flat-screen TVs, notebook PCs, smart-phones and
North Korea in 1994
was laden with economic woes as a result of the
collapse of the socialist camp. Successive floods
and other natural calamities swept away its
The 1990s saw the late Kim
Jong-il leading an arduous march through war-like
difficulties, successfully catapulting North Korea
to the most enviable space power and nuclear power
status and bringing it closer to the threshold of
Jong-eun's North Korea has close relationships
with China, Russia and almost the United Kingdom,
Germany, Canada and all other countries, except
for the US and Japan, whereas North Korea was
friendless in 1994 in the wake of the demise of
the socialist camp.
Chol is author of a number of books and papers
in Korean, Japanese and English on North Korea,
including Kim Jong-il's Strategy for
Reunification. He has a PhD from the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea's Academy of Social
Sciences and is often called an "unofficial"
spokesman of Kim Jong-il and North Korea.