North Korean leader tried to end hereditary rule
Kim Jong-Il, the former leader of North Korea, planned to end the hereditary system of rule that handed power to his son Kim Jong-un, according to a new book by a top South Korean spy.
In a move that could have put the hermit nation on a radically different course, the elder Kim planned instead to create a 10 strong-committee to run the country instead, according to Ra Jong-yil, the former head of South Korea's national intelligence service.
Ra Jong-yil, who also served as Seoul's ambassador to both London and Tokyo, said Kim Jong-il's plan to end the hereditary succession was thwarted by a combination of his sudden death in December 2011, jostling for influence among the 10 chosen members of his committee - and the determination of Kim Jong-un to seize ultimate power.
"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. 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".
The proposal proved unworkable because those who were selected to serve on the committee "would not trust each other".
Kim Jong-un also put up a stronger-than-anticipated fight for power, which he believed he had the right to claim after his father's death.
"He fought hard", he said. "He had some very strong competition, including the brother of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation, his own step-mother, who was very powerful, and his step-brothers and sisters."
Mr Ra points out that no fewer than five of the seven men who walked in Kim Jong-il's funeral cortege have since been executed by his son.