First of all, a Happy New Year to all of our readers. We have some exciting plans for The Diplomat this year, including changes to the site to better accommodate our growing network of correspondents and contributors, as well two blogs on APAC's two major rising powers, namely China and India.
In the meantime, though, some interesting signs from North Korea. According to The Korea Herald, North Korean media have suggested that Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is a step closer to be officially named heir to the North Korean leadership.
The paper says:
'North Korean media highlighted the "morning star," a nickname for Kim Jong-il's apparent heir, in their New Year's Day meteorological reports, drawing attention to the power succession plan.Kim Jong-il's youngest son Jong-un has often been referred to as the "Morning Star General."
'Venus, also known as the 'morning star,' shed an unusually bright light above the Chonji before sunrise.'
'North Korean media routinely introduce the natural phenomena on the morning of New Year's Day, but it is the first time since 2000 they mentioned the morning star.'
With so much guesswork involved with North Korea (one leading Korea watcher told me last year that, frankly speaking, we know 'nothing' about Kim Jong-un), this seems as reliable a guide as anything else. Let's hope, though, the reporter has thought this through more than The Korea Times did with a story it ran last month where it quoted, in all seriousness apparently, a story by US tabloid The Weekly World News:
'Extraterrestrial cemetery in Rwanda, Central Africa which is at least 500 years old, was discovered.
'According to the Weekly World News, Dr. Hugo Childs, the Swiss anthropologist said, "There must be 200 bodies buried there and not a single one of them is human."