That's right, Kim Jong-il is sending his #2 to Beijing in lieu of himself. From the Chosun Ilbo:
North Korea's second highest official, Kim Young-nam, is expected to visit China instead of the regime's leader Kim Jong-il.Dang. It's a good thing I didn't reveal that the minefield in the middle of the DMZ is full of gold.
Sources in Beijing and Pyongyang say last-minute fine-tuning is underway between the governments of China and North Korea.
The trip is projected to take place around March 16 and the no.2 leader is expected to be accompanied by a delegation of Pyongyang businesspeople.
The news comes after speculation that Kim Jong-il would visit China sometime near the end of this month.
I suppose instead of Pyongyang's elite fearing a brown parade while KJI is gone thanks to disgruntlement over the currency revaluation, it's possible that the Dear Leader's health has gone bad again. But pissing off Beijing is not something Pyongyang can easily do, so there's got to be a really good reason, and it's probably one of those two (i.e., real fears of a coup d'état while the ailing leader is gone, or the ailing leader's worsening health).
Maybe it's time to whip out the death pool charts again.