September 11, 2008

No Power Vacuum Detected in North Korea – Yonhap

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) - No power vacuum has been detected in North Korea amid speculations that Kim Jong Il [Kim Cho'ng-il] may have had a stroke last month, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

The diplomatic source, who declined to be identified, said there seem to have been no disruptions to key decision-making processes in the communist country, pointing to the nuclear situation as evidence.

"North Korea threatened to reassemble its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon in late August at about the time Kim may have fell ill, and actually took steps early this month that may be construed as following up on their word," he said.

Such actions can be interpreted as a sign that decisions are being made and that the system of government has not been affected by Kim's possible incapacity, said the source.

"If Kim did not make the call, others close to him may have," he said.

The insider then said that based on current intelligence, no one can say for certain if Kim will make a full recovery.

Other Pyongyang watchers, meanwhile, said the unexpected pledge of allegiance of the five most powerful decision making-bodies in North Korea to Kim on the eve of the country's founding anniversary on Tuesday may be a sign that the leader is still in control.

The pledge, carried by (North) Korean Central News Agency [KCNA], showed the Central Committee and the Central Military Committee of the Korean Workers' Party swearing allegiance to Kim by stressing that the leader is North Korea, and that his leadership is an integral part of the country's future.

The National Defence Commission, the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the Cabinet took part in the pledge.

The move was unexpected since these five key organizations made similar steps only in 2002 and 2006 to mark Kim's 60th and 65th birthdays.

Kim took power in 1994 after his father and North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung [Kim Il-so'ng], died of heart failure.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 1054 11 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.