October 12, 1997 in Nation/World

N. Korea Leader To Hold The Line

Associated Press
 

Kim Jong Il, stepping into his late father’s role as North Korea’s “great leader,” has pledged to uphold his father’s strict policies, North Korea’s official news agency reported Saturday.

“However long and difficult the road of our revolution pioneered and led by the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung may be, we must staunchly keep to this road,” Kim was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

The remarks Friday were Kim’s first reported statement on policy since his election Wednesday as general secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers Party - a title held by his late father.

To keep a firm grip on power, the younger Kim relies heavily on the personality cult surrounding his father, whom the communist regime has encouraged North Koreans to revere.

Kim Il Sung founded North Korea at the end of World War II and ruled until his death in 1994, allowing no dissent from his repressive, isolationist doctrine. But his strict policy of economic self-reliance has left the economy in shambles.

With his country gripped by a famine, South Korean officials predict Kim will gradually open up his country to accept more food aid and other assistance.

Although he had no known rivals for power, Kim had delayed assuming the post of party general secretary for three years, saying he was in mourning after his father’s death.

The younger Kim expected to assume the presidency later this year or in 1998, completing the first dynastic transfer of power in communism’s history.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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