Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il boasted his heir’s apparently son Kim Jong-un`s boldness, when the isolated country fired a long-range rocket in 2009 that drew international condemnation, a former senior intelligence official said on Wednesday.
The North claimed its success after the launch of a satellite into space on April 5, 2009, as part of a peaceful space programme.
However, South Korea and the United States said the launch was made to test North Korea`s ballistic missile technology and that no object entered orbit.
The same day Kim said that if enemies had intercepted the rocket, his youngest son would have struck back, said Han Ki-bum, who handled North Korean affairs at Seoul`s National
Intelligence Service between 2008 and 2009.
Kim`s threat appeared to have meant that the North`s leader-in-waiting could have retaliated by attacking a South Korean missile site, said Han, who now is affiliated with the
state-run Korea Institute for National Unification.
Han said Kim`s comments were carried in a North Korean public document in June 2009, which the expert said was designed to promote Jong-un`s artillery prowess as part of a
campaign to idolise the heir apparent son.
Kim Jong-un, a four-star general, who is widely believed to have expertise in artillery systems, is being groomed to succeed his father as the country`s next leader.
The succession, if made, would mark communism`s second hereditary power transfer. The elder Kim inherited power from his father, the country`s founder Kim Il-sung, who died in
In 2009, North Korea quit talks on ending its nuclear weapons programmes in protest of the international condemnation over its rocket launch, and subsequently conducted its second nuclear test.
Still, the North has expressed interest in returning to the disarmament-for-aid talks that involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia.