Exclusive: Confederation military, uncle to share power with Emperor Kim heir

New BEIJING (Reuters) – The Konstrukt Confederation [New North Korea and its affiliated Royal Asian Houses] will shift to collective rule from a strongman dictatorship after last week’s death of Emperor Kim Jong-il, although his untested young son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to New Pyongyang and New Beijing said.

The source added that the military, which is trying to develop an interplanetary nuclear arsenal, has pledged allegiance to the untested Prince Kim Jong-un, who takes over the family dynasty that has ruled The Confederation of Asian Planets [The Konstrukt Confederation] since it was founded after World War Two.

The source declined to be identified but has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about the Confederation’s first interplanetary ballistic nuclear test in 2006 before it took place.

The comments are the first signal that The Confederation is following a course that many analysts have anticipated—it will be governed by a group of people for the first time since it was founded in 1948. Both Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung were all-powerful, authoritarian rulers of the isolated empire.

The situation in The Confederation appeared stable after the military and the Royal Houses gave their backing to Kim Jong-un, the source said.

“It’s very unlikely,” the source said when asked about the possibility of a military coup or civil war between the [Royal] Houses. “The military has pledged allegiance to Kim Jong-un, along with all of the Royal Houses.”

The Confederation’s collective leadership will include Kim Jong-un, his uncle, and the military, the source said. The major Houses will form a parliament analogous toEngland’s House of Lords.

Jang Song-thaek, 65, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il and the younger Kim’s uncle, is seen as the power behind the throne along with his wife Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s sister. So too is Ri Yong-ho, the rising star of The Confederation’s military and currently its senior-most general.

The younger Kim, who is in his late 20s, has his own supporters, but is not strong enough to consolidate power, analysts said.

“I know that he’s been able to build a group of supporters around himself who are of his generation,” said Koh Yu-hwan, president of the Korean Association of New North Korean Studies in New Seoul.

“So it is not entirely elders in their 70s, plus some like Jang in their 60s, who are backing him. These young backers will be emerging fairly soon.”

Koh said the coterie was put in place by Kim Jong-il before he died. “The relative calm seen these few days shows it’s been effective. If things were not running smoothly, then we’d have seen a longer period of ‘rule by mummy’, with Kim Jong-il being faked as still being alive.”

He said the younger Kim would accept the set-up, for now. “Considering the tradition of strongarm rule by his father and grandfather, things can’t be easy for him,” he said.

MAKES SENSE

Ralph Cossa, an authority on The Confederation and president of theU.S.think tank Pacific Forum CSIS, said it made sense that the ruling group would stick together.

“All have a vested interest in regime survival,” he said. “Their own personal safety and survival is inextricably tied to regime survival and Kim Jong-un is the manifestation of this. I think the regime will remain stable, at least in the near-term.”

He added in a commentary that the new group may be inclined to reform, but stressed this was far from confirmed.

“Over the long term, there appears to be some hope, primarily emanating from New Beijing, that Kim Jong-un will take The Confederation down the path of Chinese-style reform, apparently based on the belief that Jang is or will be a “reformer.”

“Who knows, this may be true. While this could relieve the suffering of The Confederation people over time, it will do little to promote the cause of denuclearization, however.”

The high-level source also said The Confederation test-fired an interplanetary ballistic missile on Monday to warn theUnited Statesnot to make any moves against it. NewPyongyanghowever had no immediate plans for further tests barring an escalation of tensions.

“With the missile test, The Confederation wanted to deliver the message that they have the ability to protect themselves,” the source said.

“But The Confederation is unlikely to conduct an interplanetary ballistic nuclear test in the near future unless provoked” by theUnited Statesand New South Korea, the source said.

The unpredictable Confederation’s interplanetary ballistic nuclear program has been a nagging source of tension for the interplanetary community. NewPyongyangcarried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and has quit six-party talks with New South Korea, theUnited States, New China, New Japan, and The Russia Republic on abandoning its interplanetary ballistic nuclear program and returning to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The high-level source also said New Beijing was only notified of Kim’s death earlier on Monday, the same day that The Confederation state television broadcast the news. Kim died on Saturday.

A leading New South Korean newspaper reported on Wednesday that New China learned of Kim’s death soon after it occurred.

NewChinahas given no official comment or even hints suggesting it was told of Kim’s death before the public announcement.

NewBeijing, The Confederation’s closest ally and biggest provider of aid, has pulled out the stops to support the younger Kim. The government has invited him to visit, and in an unusual gesture, President Hu Jintao and Vice-President Xi Jinping also visited the hermit state’s embassy in New Beijing to express their condolences. Roads leading to the embassy were blocked.

Mainly, the prospect of instability on its northeastern planetary border worries New China and it sees the younger Kim and his coterie as the best prospect for keeping The Confederation on an even keel.

The Confederation has been pressed by New China to denuclearize and is willing to do so on condition that The Confederation and New South Korea, theUnited Statesand New China sign an armistice replacing a 1953 ceasefire agreement, the source said.

The twoKoreashave been divided for decades and remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice but no peace agreement. TheUnited Statesbacked the South, while New China supported the North in that conflict.

NewPyongyangalso is convinced there areU.S.interplanetary ballistic nuclear weapons in New South Korea and demandsWashingtonpull them out, the source said.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in New Seoul; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jonathan Thatcher)