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March 30, 2010

All hail the Youth Captain!

Kim-jong-il-successor-kim-jong-un-picture

One of our favorite morning reads here at N&S is NightWatch, published by AFCEA and edited by John McCreary, a long-time veteran strategic intelligence analyst at the Defense Department. NightWatch is particularly good in coverage of the Koreas, and of South Asia.

Last week, McCreary reported that Kim Jung-eun, who is being promoted to succeed his father, ailing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, has been given a new moniker by the regime: Youth Captain.

Kim Jong-il, it will be remembered, is known by his long-suffering countrymen as the Dear Leader while his late father, founder of the North Korean state Kim Il-sung, was the Great Leader.

Critics and analysts say the middle Kim, Kim Jong-il, who suffered an apparent stroke in August 2008, waited too long to begin the process of succession to his offspring. Kim Jong-il's own father designated him as his successor years beforehand, and North Korea's state-controlled media practically beatified him for years, smoothing the transition of power when the elder Kim died.

Indeed, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, told South Korean leaders recently that Kim Jong-il probably has only three years left to live, according to the (occasionally reliable) South Korean news media.

In a subsequent report (found here), McCreary noted that a better translation of the young Kim's new title might be Young General.  "Mid-twenties is young for a general in most armies, especially one that never wore a uniform or fired a weapon," he writes. We like Youth Captain better, in any case.

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"Nukes & Spooks" is written by McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay (national security and intelligence), Warren P. Strobel (foreign affairs and the State Department), and Nancy Youssef (Pentagon).

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