Kim Jong-il never wanted a hereditary system of leadership in North Korea and had hoped to install a 10-man ruling panel instead of appointing his son, Kim Jong-un, a top South Korean spy has claimed. Kim Jong-un seized control of the hermit kingdom in 2011 after his father's sudden death.
But according to the former head of South Korea's national intelligence service, Ra Jong-yil, the hereditary succession was never meant to take place and only occurred because the elder Kim had not finished making arrangements for a ruling panel when he died. "Even when he was still in good health, some of those close to Kim Jong-il suggested that he should name one of his children as his successor, but he brushed those suggestions aside on at least two occasions", Mr Ra told the
"Even when he was still in good health, some of those close to Kim Jong-il suggested that he should name one of his children as his successor, but he brushed those suggestions aside on at least two occasions", Ra told the Sunday Telegraph in an exclusive interview.
Instead of appointing Kim Jong-un as the next leader, Ra claims Kim Jong-il had intended for the Kim clan to step back from political life after his death and instead be celebrated as the symbolic founders of the country without any day-to-day power. "He said he most rational solution was a 10-strong leadership committee and for the Kim family to become the figurehead of the nation, a symbol and object of honour and respect but with no control over the day-to-day running of the country," Ra explained.
Kim Jong-il's radical succession plan was never completed as senior political figures quickly set about squabbling over their roles within North Korea, working on secret plots to gain extra power in a competitive environment that ended up eroding any trust between the prospective ruling panel. In the chaos that followed Kim Jong-il's death, these differences of opinion made it impossible for a ruling committee to be established, paving the way for Kim Jong-un to seize power Ra said.
"He fought hard… He had some very strong competition, including the brother of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation, his own stepmother, who was very powerful, and his stepbrothers and sisters," he added.