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N Korea set for Kim’s succession: US report

world Updated: Jul 24, 2009 23:19 IST

A US spy agency report says North Korea has restarted a subtle but persistent propaganda campaign to prepare the country’s people for a successor to ailing leader Kim Jong Il.

The report, based on publicly available information, said North Korea renewed last year the on-again, off-again effort, first begun eight years ago and now apparently focused on elevating 26-year-old Kim Jong Un, the youngest of Kim Jong Il’s three sons.

The succession push is meant to coincide with the 2012 birth centennial of Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, the country’s revered founder Kim Il Sung.

The report was compiled by the US Director of National Intelligence’s Open Source Center. It is dated May 6, 2009. “The recent signals have been extremely subtle, suggesting that they are designed to inform internal audiences without alerting outsiders,” the report said.

The Open Source Center, created in 2005 to organise the intelligence community’s work based on openly available information, cautions in the report that the information is “based exclusively on the content and behaviour of selected media and has not been coordinated with other US government components.”

The report is marked as “For Official Use Only” and was released by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News publication.

A U.S. government official confirmed that the report was from the Open Source Center. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Among the subtle hints at the future succession, the report says, is North Korean media coverage of Kim Jong Il’s 67th birthday in February, “when the regime seemed to go out of its way to underscore the need for continued Kim family rule based on Kim Jong Il’s own progeny.”