Former U.N. Ambassador and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says the grief displayed in the streets of North Korea during funeral ceremonies for recently deceased leader Kim Jong Il is “very choreographed.” Richardson, who has visited the rogue communist nation several times, also told CNN Wednesday that Kim Jong Il’s son leading the funeral procession is a signal he is now North Korean leader – but his uncle might initially wield the most power.
“Well, it’s all very choreographed. I do think there is a lot of grief there. It’s a funeral procession that basically is based on the cult of personality,” Richardson said. “Kim Jong Un, the youngest son, is now the leader – that’s the message that is being conveyed. What was interesting was the uncle was right behind him.
“He is now vice chair of the National Defense Commission. So it shows that he's kind of going to be a mentor, maybe a regent, kind of help guide Kim Jong Un in his early days,” he said. “But now that the ceremony is over, now that the funeral is over – tomorrow the last funeral event – now you will see the consolidation of power by the military through Kim Jong Un or you might see some disruption. But I think the odds are that Kim Jong Un for the next period of time will be the anointed leader.”
Richardson said the fact that Kim Jong Un has already met with South Korean leaders is a possible good sign for the region.
“The good sign is that the new leader, Kim Jong-un, did meet with South Korean leaders, two women leaders that came to pay condolences,” Richardson said. “He was very proper – and, secondly, he did convey to them the need for South Korean investment in North Korea. So he's already acting as a leader.
“Those are two initial good signs. But what you want to watch in the next few days is the North Korean military leadership [and] the Socialist Worker Party,” he said. “Those are the two entities that have the power in North Korea – especially the military. But it looks like they are anointing Kim Jong Un, the young man. They are getting behind him.”
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