Kim’s charm of­fen­sive

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jongil, is di­rect­ing the diplo­matic and pro­pa­ganda “charm of­fen­sive” un­der way as part of ef­forts to pave the way for the suc­ces­sion of his son, Kim Jong-un, to take over as supreme leader, ac­cord­ing to a diplo­matic source.

The charm of­fen­sive was launched fol­low­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s trip to the reclu­sive com­mu­nist state in Au­gust, which won the release of two im­pris­oned U.S. jour­nal­ists at the time.

Since then, North Korea has loos­ened de­mands on eco­nomic ex­changes with South Korea and has held talks with Chi­nese Prime Min­is­ter Wen Ji­abao, sig­nal­ing an end to Py­ongyang’s pique at Bei­jing’s sup­port for United Na­tions sanc­tions against North Korea, which were im­posed af­ter its May un­der­ground nu­clear test.

Kim Jong-il is be­lieved by spe­cial­ists to be suf­fer­ing from can­cer and has des­ig­nated his sec­ond son, Kim Jong-un, as his suc­ces­sor. One sign of con­tin­u­ing prepa­ra­tions for the suc­ces­sion was the re­cent pro­mo­tion of the son to the pow­er­ful Na­tional De­fense Com­mis­sion.

Mean­while, the source pro­vided new de­tails on Kim Jongil’s ex­trav­a­gant life­style in a coun­try that is fac­ing wide­spread food short­ages and se­vere poverty.

Ac­cord­ing to new in­tel­li­gence pro­vided by de­fec­tors from North Korea, Mr. Kim has been im­port­ing large amounts of ex­pen­sive goods for his per­sonal se­cu­rity and health care.

“Kim Jong-il per­son­ally owned 500 or so for­eign lux­ury cars and con­tin­ues to im­port lux­ury ve­hi­cles sub­ject to the im­port ban im­posed by U.N. Se­cu­rity

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