The North Korean leadership is ageing and dieing. The remnants of the first generation leaders, the compatriots of Kim Il Sun, the anti-Japanese guerrilla commanders, are passing on. They were instrumental in maintaining the stability of the regime during the transition from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il, and have remained important voices in the ear of Kim Jong Il. But they are, to put it bluntly, old. And they are dieing off.
The second generation leadership, the children of the revolutionaries, the Kim Jong Il generation, are in power. There are some hangers on from the first generation, in the military and elsewhere, but even Jo Myong Rok, a key first generation confidant of Kim Jong Il, is reportedly near death. Whereas the first generation leadership claim to power was based on their guerilla credentials (they actually fought for Korean independence), their Children’s claim is based on family lineage. Many of the second generation leaders were trained abroad, but primarily in Soviet, Chinese and Eastern European institutions. They have grown up as the children of the elite, and saw
But there is a rising generation, the third generation of leadership, that is now emerging. These are the children of the children of the revolution. They have grown up in a completely different environment than their predecessors. They have always been the elite, the privileged, separated from the common folk. They are the new aristocracy. Many have been to western nations, schooled in
Below are pictures of Kim Jong Il and some of his top military officers at various parades in