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Cable sobre la reunión de expertos para tratar el futuro de Corea del Norte

Varios líderes de opinión surcoreanos indican que el proceso de sucesión en Pyongyang está en marcha y que el pueblo norcoreano lo ha aceptado

ID: 249291
Date: 2010-02-18 04:57:00
Origin: 10SEOUL248
Source: Embassy Seoul
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0000
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000248

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2035
TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PGOV, SOCI, KN, KS, CH
SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL DISCUSSES DPRK FUTURE WITH EXPERTS

Classified By: AMB D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) A group of five ROK opinion leaders and experts on
North Korea issues told A/S Kurt Campbell on February 3 it
was difficult to predict whether Kim Jong-il's youngest son
Kim Jong-un would be able to succeed his father without
sparking instability in the North. Of the five experts, one
thought the younger Kim might succeed and one argued his lack
of leadership experience made it unlikely he would win the
support of the ruling elites. They agreed that Kim Jong-il's
brother-in-law Jang Song-taek would prove a strong rival for
the younger Kim and would probably be tempted to challenge
him. Kim Jong-il had used draconian controls and
international aid to discourage coups after having foiled
three such attempts in the late 90s. China's strategic
interests were fundamentally at odds with U.S.-ROK interests
in North Korea. End Summary.
Succession in Progress but Success in Doubt
-------------------------------------------

2. (C) Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell met on February 3
with Korean opinion leaders with a keen interest in DPRK
issues to hear their views on the future of North Korea. The
experts agreed that regime succession was fully underway and
that the North Korean people had accepted the process. Kim
Sung-min, Representative for Free North Korea Radio, a
VOA-style broadcast station run by North Korean refugees,
said a North Korean diplomat based in Beijing had told him
over the phone that morning that the DPRK Foreign Ministry
had instructed all of its overseas missions to "lay the
foundation for leadership change in Pyongyang." Most of the
experts believed the challenge for Kim Jong-il's youngest son
and designated heir, Kim Jong-un, would most likely come
after his father died. Former Prime Minister Chang Sang
recalled the Chosun Dynasty's 500 year history in which
political intrigue and tension might simmer for years, but
tended to erupt only after the king died.
3. (C) The group agreed that Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law
and right-hand man Jang Song-taek was spearheading the
succession drive and would be a rival for power once Kim
Jong-un's father died, but the group was split on the younger
Kim's prospects for holding onto power. Kim Sung-min
believed it would be difficult for Jang to wrest power from
the younger Kim once the succession process was complete.
National Assemblywoman Park Sun-Young suggested it was
unclear whether Jang would be content to control the younger
Kim from behind the curtain, or would challenge him directly
for outright control. Park is a member of the
right-of-center Liberty Forward Party and was formerly the
Director of the North Korea Human Rights Studies Center at
Korea's Catholic University.

Doubts About Younger Kim's Experience
-------------------------------------
4. (C) There were many reasons to doubt that Kim Jong-un
would be able to successfully fend off challenges to his
control after his father died, according to Han Ki-Hong,
President of DailyNK, an NGO focused on democratizing North
Korea and disseminating information about conditions within
the country. Han noted that Kim Jong-il had twenty years of
experience as an official of the Korean Workers' Party before
his father died. Furthermore, Kim Jong-il had the benefit of
years of guidance from his father after he had been
officially anointed in 1980 to eventually succeed him. By
contrast, Kim Jong-un had very limited experience and might
not get much direct guidance before Kim Jong-il dies. Even
now, Han said, it was not clear that Kim Jong-il's health was
good enough to exercise the faculties necessary for
day-to-day management of state affairs. Given the limited
opportunity the younger Kim had to gain experience, Han
doubted his ability to solidify his position in the Party and
win the unwavering support of Pyongyang's power elites. Han
recalled the tumultuous state of affairs in the ROK following
the death of President Park Chung Hee in 1979 and suggested
the DPRK succession would be "100 times more troublesome."
Han is a veteran of the ROK student democratization movement
that emerged in the post-Park era.
Tight Control and Aid Kept Regime Afloat
----------------------------------------
5. (C) Kim Heung-kwang, Representative for North Korea
Intellectuals Solidarity, an NGO formed by intellectuals who
had defected from the North, opined that brutal repression
and international aid had been the secrets of Kim Jong-il's
ability to fend off challenges. After three separate coup
attempts in the 90s, Kim Jong-il had implemented very strict
controls and sent a stern warning to would-be plotters by
executing anyone who had been even remotely involved in the
plots. Therefore, only the military could even dare consider
rising up, but the Security Services had successfully kept
the military in check. Kim Heung-kwang went on to suggest
that the "indulgence" of the international community over the
past ten years had also helped sustain the regime. The
large-scale assistance provided to the regime by the ROK,
China, the U.S., Japan and others had been intended in part
to avoid a hard landing, and indeed had kept the regime
afloat, he said. Park Sun-Young suggested that North Korea
had skillfully played Washington and Beijing off one another.
She believed that the DPRK had exploited large amounts of
assistance from China, taking advantage of a situation in
which Beijing was presumed by Washington to have significant
influence over Pyongyang.
China Complicates the Endgame
-----------------------------

6. (C) The experts agreed that China's obsession with DPRK
stability at all costs, was clearly and fundamentally at odds
with U.S. and ROK interests. Given a choice between reaching
out to Seoul or Beijing, Park believed that Pyongyang elites
would reflexively look to China for support if they believed
they needed help in maintaining stability. The Seoul option
would be unacceptable because of the U.S.-ROK alliance and
concerns over becoming subservient to Seoul. China, on the
other hand, would gladly provide support with few or no
strings attached, just to maintain the DPRK as an independent
entity, she maintained.

7. (C) Han Ki Hong noted that although Washington had a keen
interest in both denuclearization and human rights, the U.S.
stake in North Korea was minimal compared to that of China by
virtue of its proximity to the North. China did not share
American perspectives on these two key issues, considering
them somewhat abstract. Rather, Beijing was concerned about
what it considered to be more concrete issues, such as a
potential flood of "economic migrants" and broader social
unrest on its immediate border.
Reaching the People and Close Cooperation are Key
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (C) Negating Chinese influence over the long term, Park
Sun-Young observed, would involve close U.S.-ROK cooperation
in winning the hearts and minds of the North Korean people.
Park said that while she understood the importance of the
nuclear issue for Washington, she urged more focus on human
rights issues that would convince the populace that "we are
on their side."
STEPHENS