Friday, February 25, 2011

Has Kim Jong-un already risen to number two? Or is our media analysis a bunch of number two?

[Note: This post and its companion are a compilation and expansion of two recent comments I left at One Free Korea, slightly expanded upon here.]

On display on the giant display.
Is this a picture highlighting Kim Jong-un, or is this a scene from a video 
congratulating Kim Jong-il on living another year that has been captured as a 
still shot and is presented by the New York Times in such a way 
that it looks like it was the centerpiece of the show?  

Writing at One Free Korea, frequent commenter Glans noted:
Kim Jong-Un is now #2. Anyhow, the NY Times says that Chosun Ilbo says that an anonymous source says so. Read the report by Mark McDonald.
Hmm… I'm still skeptical about The Kim Who Wasn't There. It doesn’t help that the article’s author appears to confuse himself:
South Korean government officials could not immediately confirm Kim Jong-il’s promotion, and KCNA had made no mention of it by Wednesday afternoon. [emphasis mine]
I think he meant Kim Jong-un [this has since been corrected by the NYT]. L'il Kim. I wonder where else Mr McDonald’s confused. This is the NYT, right? You’d think they’d have better editing than that. (Or was this a case of me grossly misreading the article at 1:30 a.m.? There are so many Kim Jong-x running around.)

I’m also skeptical of the claim being made that this promotion means “he has been elevated to North Korea’s #2.” It says he was “named to the post of vice chairman of the defense commission” [emphasis mine], but isn’t there already a vice chairman in the form of his own uncle? Did Jang Songthaek lose that post? If not, then Kim Jong-un is more like #3, not #2.

I’m wondering if this can be a “definitive declaration” when the KCNA doesn’t even carry it (so far). Sorry, but I’m skeptical that the same people who thought for so long that Kim Jong-un was 김정운 and not 김정은 suddenly have such a clearer picture of what’s going on up there.

When we start seeing official portraits and/or badges of Kim Jong-un, that means he’s been anointed.

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