When Kim Il Sung, the "president-for-life" of North Korea, turned sixty-two, in 1974, he decided that his son Kim Jong Il would succeed him. Kim Jong Il, who indeed took over when his father died, twenty years later, turned sixty-three in February. The North Korean media have recently been quoting words reportedly spoken by Kim Il Sung: if he himself could not carry out "the final victory of the Korean revolution," then his son would; and if his son couldn't, then his grandson would. Just weeks before his birthday Kim Jong Il announced to North Korea that he would "uphold Father Leader's instructions"—and so it is widely believed that the "Dear Leader" will soon name his own successor. Needless to say, Kim Jong Il's choice of who will complete the revolution is an important one, for North Koreans and for the world. Here are the candidates most likely to continue the Kim dynasty.
KIM JONG CHOL: The middle son (born 1981) of Kim Jong Il. His mother was the popular North Korean dancer Ko Yong Hui.
Why he might be the next Dear Leader: Jong Chol's mother, who died last year, seems to have been the subject of a glorification campaign by the state, which referred to her in recent years as "respected mother," "great woman," and "loyal subject to the Dear Leader." A similar campaign glorified Kim Jong Il's mother when he prepared to succeed his father. Ko Yong Hui was rumored to have lobbied vigorously in behalf of her son, using her unusually strong influence on Kim Jong Il to secure a place for Jong Chol in the country's leadership and to banish Kim Jong Il's own brother-in-law—who had been considered a possible replacement for the Dear Leader—from Pyongyang. (She also reportedly got Kim Jong Il to give up drinking.)