World News Brief, Wednesday September 29

Kim Jong-Un made general, positioned for succession in North Korea (+ analysis); Tensions ease in Japan-China fishing boat stand-off; US Fed considers further stimulus; China seeks ancient links to Africa to shake off "coloniser" tag; and more

Top of the Agenda: North Korea Confirms Succession Expectations

North Korea leader Kim Jong-Il appointed his third son (WSJ) as senior general in the country's army just before the country's Worker's Party meeting, signaling his plans for a third-generation power transfer. State-run Korea Central News Agency said Kim's son Kim Jong-Un and sister Kim Kyong-Hui would become four-star generals, the highest rank in the Korean People's Army. The appointments reinforce the importance in succession of North Korea's military, which is nominally as powerful as the country's ruling political party but in reality considered more dominant and responsible for much of the country's economic activity.

North Korean defectors have said some military officials in the North don't want control to pass to someone as young as Kim Jong-Un, who is believed to be about twenty-seven. The Worker's Party may still appoint the younger Kim to party posts during its meeting later Tuesday. Events in Pyongyang are reminiscent of the gradual rise of the elder Kim (BBC) in the mid-1970s. He was given a key post in the ruling party and then formally anointed as Kim Il-Sung's successor in 1980. Choi Hae-Ryong, a close family aide, was also promoted to general (KoreaTimes), a move analysts say will create a bridge between young and inexperienced Jong-Un and seasoned members of the party and military who support him.


On the Diplomat, Patrick Cronin says both North and South Korea are engaging in "legacy diplomacy." South Korea's Lee Myung-bak wants a breakthrough in North-South relations during his remaining years in office, but it is unclear what progress he can make if Kim Jong-Il steps down.

In the Asia Times, Donald Kirk says the Worker's Party conference makes the timing of US and South Korean war games "uncanny--either a brilliant stroke of defiance of North Korea and China, which really do not like such things going on in the Yellow Sea, or a rather clumsy gesture that would seem like a needless assault on North Korean sensitivities."

In this CFR Analysis Brief, experts say the North Korean power transition is unlikely to herald reforms, and urge efforts to engage with the regime.


This Crisis Guide examines political dynamics of the Korean Peninsula.


PACIFIC RIM: China Softens Tone on Japan Dispute

After weeks of escalating diplomatic tensions between Japan and China over the detention of a Chinese fishing captain, China softened its tone with Tokyo (NYT), calling on the countries to work together to resolve the dispute over territorial sovereignty, compensation for damaged boats, and wounded national pride.

The dispute between Beijing and Tokyo is a challenge for Washington and raises concerns about Chinese maritime activities in the Asia Pacific, says CFR's Sheila Smith.



- CIA Ramps up Pakistan Drone Strikes

- China researches links to Africa

- Fed Considers New Stimulus Approach


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on