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Sunday, 10 October 2010

A Unique View On a Unique State

Yesterday's post on Sino-Gist covered the preparations and celebrations being made for North Korea's (DPRK) 65th anniversary. The milestone has come at a time of intense political manoeuvring in the country, as Kim Jong-il attempts to gain backing for his son (Kim Jong-un) to takeover as leader when he dies. The North Korean leader had previously taken a visit to China in an attempt to secure Chinese backing for his succession plans.

For the first time in its history, the DPRK has allowed in foreign television crews to film the 65th anniversary celebration parade held in Pyongyang today. The BBC was able to broadcast pictures of military formations and the Worker's Party of Korea's (WPK) leadership- footage which is available on the BBC website. The remarkable pictures are certainly worth a look, if only because they present an extremely rare window into a very secretive state.

As the BBC is suggesting, the reason why the WPK has allowed cameras in is all to do with the political transition the country is making. By allowing the world to see Kim Jong-un standing with his father, the DPRK is sending a clear signal to the world that it should be prepared to continue working with the Kim dynasty. On a deeper level, the decision also suggests an attempt by the government to fastrack Kim Jong-un's suitability to be leader into the international imagination. Whereas Kim Il-sung gave Kim Jong-il 14 years as his successor to carve out a power base, Kim Jong-un does not have the same luxury of time. By giving him alot of exposure both abroad and at home, his father is hoping that a smooth handover of power will be more guaranteed when the time comes to hand over the reigns.

Of course, allowing foreign transmission of the 65th anniversary parade also reinforces North Korea's enormous military strength. At a time when tensions on the Korean Peninsula are still running high, the DPRK is looking to show the world that it won't be browbeaten into compromise.

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