N Korea builds `shrine` to leader`s likely successor

Last Updated: Friday, July 16, 2010 - 11:57

Seoul: North Korea is creating a quasi-shrine to the youngest son of ailing leader Kim Jong-Il as it builds up a personality cult around the likely successor, reports said on Friday.

There have been widespread reports that Kim Jong-Un, 27, is being groomed to take over from his 68-year-old father Jong-Il, who suffered a stroke in August 2008.

The secretive communist state is transforming the proclaimed birthplace of Jong-Un into a kind of shrine, Tokyo-based activist Lee Young-Hwa told Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

The regime resumed work this month to lay railway tracks between the centre of the capital and its eastern Kangdong district, where the regime claims it discovered the ancient burial site of Tangun, the mythological founder of the first Korean kingdom.

Work began in March last year but stopped last summer, said Lee, who heads the Rescue North Korean People Urgent Action Network.

A statue of Kim Jong-Il`s grandfather is also there.

"The regime is making out that Jong-Un`s first home town is Kangdong and his second one Wonsan. But we don`t know if he was actually born in Kangdong," Lee was quoted as saying.

Daily NK, a Seoul-based online newspaper run by defectors, reported in May that the North had moved residents out of Kangdong to transform Jong-Un`s birth house into a sacred site.

Kim Jong-Il took over from his father, founding president Kim Il-Sung who died in 1994, in the communist world`s only dynastic succession.

Both are the subject of intense personality cults fostered by the regime, which treats their birthplaces as sacred sites.

Some analysts say the North will probably designate Jong-Un as the leader`s political heir when it convenes a rare meeting of key communist party delegates in September.

South Korea`s spy chief Won Sei-Hoon said last month that Kim Jong-Il`s poor health was driving him to speed up preparations to transfer power to his won, who had been taking a greater role in policy-making.

Dong-A newspaper carried the same report about work in Kangdong. It said Jong-Un was taking a crucial role in policymaking this year by controlling security bodies.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, July 16, 2010 - 11:57

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