Say it with me: this report could not be verified independently. This document could easily be as fake as the Hitler diaries, but it does make for interesting reading:
These instructions casually referred to Kim family business, indicating that ‘the teachings should be executed by Kim Kyong-Hui’ (Kim Jong-Il’s sister), that ‘Kim Kyong-Hui and Kim Jong-Un should take care of the family,’ and that ‘Kim Kyong-Hui should handle management of all assets inside and outside the country.’
Foreign media often focus on Kim Kyong-Hui’s role as the wife of regime insider Jang Sung-Taek, but, as Kim Jong-Il’s sister, she has been firmly in control of personnel changes since her brother’s death. Of the 232 members on Kim Jong-Il’s funeral committee, she was listed 14th; her husband was 19th. She is routinely ranked higher than her husband in terms of protocol. Indeed, Jang Sung-Taek’s promotion to General was her decision.
The problem is that Kim Kyong-Hui is in poor health, owing to years of alcohol abuse. Moreover, she is so capricious and self-centered that even Kim Jong-Il had trouble keeping her in check. Due to her poor health, it is unclear how long she will be able to continue advising Kim Jong-Un, now surrounded by military personnel in their seventies and eighties who supported past generations. He needs advisers closer to his own age, but none is at hand. [Yuriko Koike, Singapore Straits Times]
Koike, incidentally, is Japan’s former Defense Minister and National Security Advisor. The idea of Kim Kyong Hui being the real power-broker is more plausible than the idea of Kim Jong Un holding real power. I have heard this theory before, from a well-connected South Korean source whose information has been spot-on at times, when it could be confirmed. He tells me that the relationship between Mrs. Kim and her husband, Jang Song Thaek, is of a Clintonian character — they’re romantically estranged, but the closest of frenemies on political matters.
BRETT STEPHENS IN THE WSJ: Anyone but Condi. She has a wonderful personal history, and she’s probably a perfectly nice person, but she was an awful National Security Advisor, and an awful Secretary of State, and she should not return to a prominent role in making foreign policy.
U.N. UPDATE: The U.S., Japan, Europe, and South Korea are pushing to add 40 North Korean entities to the sanctions list. China, so far, agrees to only two of them. I’m not sure why we’re bothering with this. It accomplishes nothing to bargain with China over a list it will ignore anyway, when unilateral action by Treasury would be easier, more effective, and far more likely to coerce compliance by Chinese banks and companies. It would also enjoy broad international support by those nations with the most global financial influence.