Kim Jong-Un speeding up generation shift, may have sidelined powerful stepmother

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By”>Lee Jong-Heon,

North Korea’s newly-installed ruler Kim Jong-Un has been accelerating efforts to form his own independent power base, placing individuals loyal to him in key positions of authority after purging a number of potential rivals, sources in Seoul said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspects an Army artillery unit on Feb. 25. /Yonhap

“A series of reshuffles are undergoing in the Party, the People’s Army and Cabinet, a move pushed by Kim Jong-Un to structure his own power base independently from his father,” said a source familiar with North Korean affairs.

Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, became ruler of the “Hermit Kingdom” following the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, in December.

But this left the young, untested heir vulnerable to power struggles because he did not have the decades of grooming and time to secure a power base that his father enjoyed before assuming control from his own father, Kim Il-Sung. Kim Jong-Un has little experience.

“In this sense of fear, Kim feels compelled to speed up political shakeups at the risk of possible backlash from those dismissed,” the source said.

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