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Tuesday, April 19, 2011     GET REAL

Kim Jong-Un fails to get promotion; Kim Jong-Il focuses on son's resume

By Lee Jong-Heon, special from

SEOUL — North Korea's parliament ended a closely monitored session without promoting ailing leader Kim Jong-Il's heir-apparent son to another top post. There had been speculation that the 69-year-old leader would appoint his third son, Kim Jong-Un, as a member of the powerful National Defense Commission.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's heath has considerably improved, allowing him to focus on tackling the economy and nuclear diplomacy rather than hastening the planned hereditary power transfer, government sources here said.

The priority shift was reflected on April 7 when the supreme leader, accompanied by his son and heir-apparent Kim Jong-Un, made inspection tours of industrial sites in the country's remote northwestern border area with China, instead of attending an annual parliamentary session held in Pyongyang.

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The two Kims visited factories manufacturing steel, tire, tractors, and other machinery equipment in Jagang Province where the munitions industry is concentrated, according to the North's media reports and sources in Seoul.

Kim Jong-Un, left, and his father Kim Jong-Il.
Kim Jong-Il urged officials and workers there to make all-out efforts to accomplish his father's and the country's founding leader Kim Il-Sung's dream of building a "kangsong taeguk" (strong and prosperous state), the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Kim Jong-Il has long promised to "open the gate to a kangsong taeguk" in 2012 when the country marks the 100th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, and the 70th birthday of Kim Jong-Il, who is expected to formally annoint Jong-Un as his successor for a third generation of family rule.

During his visit to Jagang Province, Kim Jong-Il also praised company officials for equipping factories with computer numeric control (CNC), a production system allegedly invented and developed by Kim Jong-Un, the KCNA report said.

Jagang Province has been described as the home of CNC technology. The North's media has said output of many factories jumped on the back of the CNC mechanism, which has been dubbed as Jong-Un's primary achievement.

Almost everything — from plastic pencils to the ubiquitous vinalon — is now made "on a CNC basis," according to state publications.

Officials and analysts in Seoul consider the senior Kim's praise of CNC as part of efforts to identify the achievement of his son and heir.

North Korea's newspapers that never use English letters frequently print "CNC," a clear sign that the technology is being used to boost Jong-Un's leadership, according to Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute think tank in Seoul.

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