Monday, October 11, 2010

BBC: North Koreans don't want Kim Jong-un to take over

As part of their slew of reports that came out of their visit to Pyongyang, the BBC, carrying on the theme that Kim Jong-un's rise to power is a done deal, also tells us that North Koreans themselves (not just the defectors) are not too keen on having L'il L'il Kim take over:
North Koreans are reportedly unhappy about the prospect that the little-known son of the current leader will become their next ruler.

Public opinion is hard to gauge in the secretive state, but newspapers in neighbouring South Korea have been carrying comments from unnamed informants living in the North and unidentified defectors living outside the country, suggesting that the heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, is viewed in a negative light.

According to the South Korean newspaper Choson Ilbo, public opinion of the Kim dynasty has been worsening with each generation.

"Many see Kim Il-sung as a father figure who enjoyed widespread respect, but his son Kim Jong-il is seen as a dictator and tyrant and his grandson Kim Jong-un as a nobody without experience," the paper said. ...

According to the paper's informants "elderly people in North Korea who lived through the Japanese occupation (which ended in 1945) say even under Japanese rule, trains ran on time and food rations were distributed smoothly. They say Kim Jong-il is worse than the Japanese because millions have starved to death and the economy has collapsed".

As for Kim Jong-un, defectors are quoted by Choson Ilbo as saying North Koreans feel neither respect nor fear. They view him as a child.

The South Korean newspaper The Daily NK says that "the North Korean authorities are working hard to limit the spread of negativity and wild rumours about Kim Jong-un but finding it a tough task".

Daily NK quoted an unnamed provincial source as saying that "negative words about Kim Jong-un have been circulating, so a decree was released whereby party organs and the National Security Agency dispatched secret 'net agents' (spies) into the local community to survey public opinion and then report back to the authorities. Therefore, nowadays we have to watch our tongues. Otherwise, we don't know where we might end up."
I tried to focus mostly on what the "informants" inside North Korea have supposedly been saying, but you can read the article to get an idea of what defectors now in South Korea think about what North Koreans think. Granted, defectors are a self-selected group that hated the regime so much that they risked their lives to leave, but even if those that remain in North Korea may lack their drive or their fearlessness, they may still harbor similar opinions about Dynastic Transition 2.0.

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