Updated June. 24, 2009 08:57
The heir apparent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has received control of the Stalinist countrys secret police in the first step of his succession process, a well-informed source on the North said yesterday.
Kim Jong Un and his father are known to have visited the head office of the National Security Agency around March at the foot of Mount Ami in Pyongyang. The source said Kim Jong Il told key agency officials to consider Kim Jong Un their boss and defend him with their lives.
The source said Kim Jong Il made similar comments early last month while visiting National Security Agency University in Pyongyang, a school which trains the agencys elite agents. He is said to have given to agency officials in March five imported luxury cars worth around 80,000 U.S. dollars each as gifts.
The security body monitors the ideological trends of the North Korean people, looks for dissidents, and conducts overseas spy operations. It has branches in provinces and dispatches captain-level agents to each battalion-level military unit to keep watch over military organizations.
Since 1987, Kim Jong Il has been the agencys official leader but the organizations chief deputy director has represented it officially. The current chief deputy director is U Tong Chuk, who is also a member of the powerful National Defense Commission.
The source said Kim Jong Il probably handed over his power as the agencys chief to his heir apparent, rather than appointing his son chief deputy director. Agency cadres are known to take orders from an authority higher than the chief deputy director, such as those from Kim Jong Un.
Signs also suggest that the security agency has grown more powerful. The source said the Norths estimated 100,000-man border guard unit will be placed under the agencys control next month at the latest. The unit had belonged to the agency until 1992, when it was moved to the Peoples Armed Forces Ministry.
Officers of the unit are said to be pleased over the planned transfer to the agency on the expectation of better treatment.
In addition, the security agency in April also took over control of the border immigration office from the military.
As the heir apparent, Kim Jong Un is also known to be involved in personnel appointments at the organizational department of the Norths ruling Workers Party.
The source said the junior Kim will follow in his fathers footsteps in becoming the partys organizational secretary, second only to the general secretary, to take control of the party. The next step will be inheriting the post of supreme commander of the North Korean military.
According to the source, a review of the ideology of party members is under preparation so that they can confess all of their previous misdeeds and get off to a fresh start.
Taking over the security agency first among his fathers powerful posts could suggest that Kim Jong Il is most fearful of possible resistance within the inner power circle in the succession process. That is why attention is being drawn to how he will eliminate those standing in the way of his plan.