N. Korean leader could be son of Russia

Amid rumors that North Korea is preparing to announce who will succeed Kim Jong-il, the Communist leader has again found himself in spotlight – including the story of his birth, shrouded in mystery.

Official accounts say Kim Jong-il was born during Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula in a secret military camp on a sacred mountain.

According to North Korean history books, the birth of the second leader of North Korea and the son of its eternal President was followed by the appearance of two rainbows and a new star in the heavens.

But the reality could be far more down to earth.

Vyatskoye village is several dozen miles away from the city of Khabarovsk in Russia's Far East and, for a few years, it was the home of a joint Chinese-Korean guerilla regiment fighting against Japan.

Before North Korea was established as a state, its future leader Kim Il-sung also used to serve there as a captain of the Red Army.

“Kim Il-sung and his son, the current leader of North Korea, both used to live here, in our village,” says local resident Olga Zotyeva.

Anatoly Korovikov was born and spent his whole life in Vyatskoye. He is one of the few living witnesses of those times.

“I remember this camp. We weren't allowed to go there, but Chinese and Korean soldiers were free to walk anywhere they wanted,” he recalls. “Some of them even got married here and some left, leaving three or four women pregnant.”

Kim Il-sung fled to the Soviet Union after his guerilla team was crushed by Japanese authorities in 1940.

Five years later, the Second World War brought its results – Japan was defeated and pushed out of the Korean peninsula for the first time since 1910.

Promoted to the rank of major in the Red Army, Kim Il-sung was sent to Pyongyang to assist Soviet commandants working there.

If he did not leave Vyatskoye for around five years, it is therefore unlikely that Kim Jong-il was born somewhere else.

Of course, all of this does not quite fit with the official North Korean story – and the archive bureau in Khabarovsk has only fueled the mystery around Kim Jong-il's birth.

“There's lots of proof that Kim Il-sung lived in Vyatskoye. However, we couldn't find official confirmation that Kim Jong-il was born there. Not even from the FSB – this information is still secret,” says Elena Dobryak from Khabarovsk city administration archive department.

Back in Vyatskoye, there is a small cemetery – the last resting place of the Korean and Chinese soldiers who died while serving in the regiment, taking the truth with them.

We may never find out the true story of Kim Jong-il's birth.

Meanwhile, North Korea's state media reports preparations for a massive Communist party conference – the biggest in 30 years – are underway in the country's capital Pyongyang.

South Korea says soldiers, artillery and tanks have been deployed around the capital for a massive military parade.

It is likely that at the conference an heir to Kim Jong-il will be announced, with the most likely candidate believed to be the leader’s third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

Leonid Petrov, a lecturer on Korean Studies at Sydney University, told RT any announcement is unlikely to bring much change to the country.

“[Kim Jong-il’s] family is very comfortable with the current state of affairs, they treat the Democratic People’s Republic as their hereditary estate, so they don’t want and don’t need any change,” Petrov said. “Kim Jong-un is the best candidate for this role. He is the youngest in the family, which means he is not going to be independent. He is not going to do anything against the will of his father or any other members of the Kim’s family. And he won’t be experimental in terms of reform or any change – something which his family really fears.”

However according to Rudiger Frank, Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at Vienna University, it’s unlikely that Jong-un will be announced at the meeting. Rather, Frank says, he will be elevated to some kind of post within the Central Committee and be given a chance to develop a record of his own. After that, at the 2012 party congress, he might be announced as the next leader.

Watch full interview with Rudiger Frank

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