September 27, 2021

NK Leadership Chess: 2012 Year-in-Review

2012 was a major success for Pyongyang, with Kim Jong Un successfully taking on all of the positions formerly held by his father

The year 2012 was a momentous one for the North Korean leadership, as power was successfully transferred from father to son for a second time in the country’s history. There were a number of major events, including a massive ceremony (and failed rocket launch) in April to mark the hundredth birthday of Kim Il Sung, a Party Conference and Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) meeting in April, the removal of Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho from all his positions in July, a highly unusual second SPA meeting in September, and a successful rocket launch in December, as well as major personnel shuffles throughout the year.

When the year began, there were more than a few analysts (myself included) who questioned whether the regime could successfully pull off the succession process; questions revolved around whether Dear Respected Kim Jong Un was too young and inexperienced to possibly take over. Some analysts went so far as to say that North Korea would collapse – unless it basically became another province of China. In the end, this year must be looked at as a major success for the regime, at least from what outsiders can see. Not only did Kim Jong Un take on all of the positions formerly held by his father, but he was able to put his stamp on the regime with personnel moves in the military and security services.