North Korean Kim Dynasty In Graph Form

North Korea intrigues me as it is so closed, secretive, and sinister.  The news over the past 36 hours is dark.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issued an assassination order to kill his half-brother after seizing power in 2011 and agents tried to execute it at least once before succeeding this week, South Korea’s top spy chief said.

National Intelligence Service Director Lee Byung-ho’s statement to South Korean lawmakers in a closed-door session on Wednesday came as Malaysia arrested a suspect in the mysterious airport killing this week of the brother, Kim Jong Nam .

Here is a chart that shows the family lines of the Kim Dynasty.  Clearly some Clorox in the gene pool might be required given the news.

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Political Trivia: North Korea’s Former Leader Not A Public Speaker

Sunday’s 20 minute speech from North Korea’s Supreme Leader  Kim Jong-un  was a rather huge and unexpected event.

Mr. Kim’s speech on the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, his grandfather and the North’s founding president, was his public political debut. In an unexpected 20-minute speech, broadcast live inside North Korea, Mr. Kim demonstrated a new leadership style but reaffirmed his adherence to the “military first” policy of his father, Kim Jong-il, which has left North Korea locked in a prolonged confrontation with the United States and its allies.

His speech was a major departure from the practices of his reclusive father, who cloaked his brutal rule in mystery and who never gave a speech to the general public before his death in December. North Koreans did not even hear Kim Jong-il’s voice until a broadcast in 1992, when he shouted one sentence into the microphone while inspecting a military parade: “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the People’s Army.”

Video: Funeral Starts For Kim Jong Il

Fascinating glimpse inside North Korea at a most pivotal time for the nation.

North Korea’s next leader is leading a funeral procession for his father Kim Jong Il through Pyongyang’s snow-covered streets. Footage broadcast Wednesday on North Korea’s state television showed Kim Jong Un walking at the side of a sedan.

How Did Kim Jong Il Die?

Intrigue…and more intrigue.

Now, South Korean intelligence officials are even casting doubt on Pyongyang’s official story line that the 69-year-old Kim died of a heart attack while working aboard a moving train Saturday morning.

South Korea’s top spy, Won Sei-hoon, told lawmakers in Seoul that a review of satellite photographs revealed that Kim’s train was actually stationary at a Pyongyang station at the time of the ruler’s death, as announced by the North, according to media reports.

“There were no signs the train ever moved,” South Korean media quoted Won as telling officials.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday seconded Won’s reported comments, questioning the circumstances of the dictator’s death.

Due to previous assassination attempts, Kim always traveled aboard a bulletproof train that was more like an armored Queen Mary on wheels.

North Korea watchers speculate that the time and place of Kim’s death may somehow be sensitive to North Korean officials as they oversee the transition of power to the late strongman’s handpicked successor, his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

South Korean media reported rumors circulating among national lawmakers that Kim Jong Il actually died in his bed at his Pyongyang residence.

But the image of a sickly, weakened and prone “Dear Leader” taking his last breaths may not have sounded sufficiently patriotic to suit Pyongyang’s propaganda machine.

So maybe, just maybe, the North Koreans pulled a page from Hollywood and … did a rewrite! The image of an indefatigable Kim dying while on a “field guidance tour” better fits the legacy of a dictator who didn’t know quit.

(Think the drama of a young John F. Kennedy cut down in the infancy of his presidency, or a charismatic Theodore Roosevelt-type who keels over at his desk.)

The North’s Korean Central News Agency is perpetrating the dictator-as-hero story, reporting that the North Korean people, “young and old, men and women, are calling Kim Jong Il, who gave tireless field guidance, totally dedicated day and night to the happiness of the people.”

Slow Pace Of Reporting Death Of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il

I love a big international news story with drama and speculation.  Little is better than when at the center of the story is North Korea.  Mysterious, dangerous, and complicated.  Love it.

The first thing that struck me about the news story last night of Kim Jong-il dying was pointed out in an online article this morning.  The lapse of time from his death to the time it was reported underscores the apparent instability of the regime, and the confusion and intrigue that often is at the heart of such tyrannical nations.

Not long after the news of the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il broke, just after 10pmET tonight, “Kim Jong” and “Pyongyang” began trending on Twitter. The death of a ruling world leader — in this case a supreme leader — would be instant news around the globe. But the fact that it took two days for the news to be made public, speaks volumes about the global isolation in which North Korea exists. The first reports were that Kim died of fatigue at 8:30 am Dec. 17 (6:30pmET Friday) during train ride. That was later updated to “massive heart attack.”

North Korea Acts Like It Is 2010

The calendar change had no effect in North Korea.

North Korea’s authoritarian regime, in its annual New Year’s message, on Saturday underlined its desire to take over South Korea and warned the South’s government to stop what it called “north-targeted war moves” and a “smear campaign” against it.

Much of the nearly 6,000-word message repeated statements it made last year and in previous years. Most of it focused on a long-promoted drive by the North’s government to build a “prosperous nation” by 2012, the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea and was its absolute ruler from 1948 until his death in 1994.

The message also reiterated the North Korean regime’s oft-stated themes of independent development, which it puts into practice by limiting freedoms of its citizens, including their ability to travel and obtain information about the outside world while telling them there is no life better that the one they are leading.

“There are no party and people in the world as great as ours, which have an ever-victorious history and a highly promising future,” it said.

The New Year’s statement is one of the main messages of the year by the North’s leadership to its people. It is printed in every major North Korean newspaper and read on state-run broadcasts. Its state news agency distributed the entire message, along with seven separate news stories about it early Saturday.

Leaked Cables: What America Thinks Of World Leaders

Does anyone recall how Richard Nixon would respond when asked about world leaders.  He would have wonderful short summations of each one mentioned.  I thought of that today when reading from the treasure trove of insights from the leaked State Department cables.  Nixon would be fuming about the leaked cables, but he would be reading every tidbit just like the rest of us.  He would have (grudgingly) loved the newspapers today.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy: ‘has a thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style’ and is an ‘emperor with no clothes’

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: ‘feckless, vain and ineffective as a modern European leader’. He is a ‘physically and politically weak’ leader whose ‘frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest’

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: ‘plays Robin to Putin’s Batman’ and is ‘pale and hesitant’

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: an ‘alpha dog’

Chancellor Angela Merkel: ‘avoids risks and is rarely creative’

Iranian President Mahmoud Amhadinejad: like ‘Hitler’ (It should be noted the Daily Mail got this one wrong…this was not from an American source, but instead from a Middle East leader in the U.A.E.)

Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi: is ‘strange’ and ‘accompanied by voluptuous blonde Ukranian “nurse”’

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: governs with ‘a cabal of incompetent advisors’

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il: ‘flabby old chap’ who suffers from ‘physical and psychological trauma’

Afghan president, Hamid Karzai: ‘driven by paranoia’ and ‘an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him’

Zimbabwean tyrant, Robert Mugabe: ‘the crazy old man’

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is said to ‘float along on paranoia’ and is dismissed as ‘an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him’.

Kim Jong-il, the ailing dictator of North Korea is described as a ‘flabby old chap’ who had suffered ‘physical and psychological trauma’.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Looks At Death, Plans Power Transfer

This was the news most expected.  I have been rather fascinated over the future of leadership in  North Korea, and am still wondering how the military will view the news.  As long as they are paid and fed…….?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appointed his third son as a four-star general, North Korea’s official media reported early Tuesday, in the first time that Kim Jong Eun has been publicly named in the country and the biggest sign yet the family is attempting another father-to-son power transfer.

Kim Jong Il also appointed his sister, Kim Kyoung Hui, as a four-star general, in what is perhaps the first time a woman has held such a job in North Korea.

The elevation of Mr. Kim’s sister, who has played an active role in economic policies as head of the country’s light industries, is a sign that she may be thrust into leadership if Mr. Kim were to die before the younger son is ready to take over. Her husband, Jang Song-taek, for several years has been Mr. Kim’s closest associate and is seen in public far more than she is.