There have been rumors for more than a year that Kim Jong Il is planning on turning over the reins of power to his son, Kim Jong Un, before he dies. In effect, he is slowly removing the blocks that have supported his own dictatorship and laying the foundation for his son's rule at the same time.
Evidence of this has come recently with the deliberate unveiling of a secret nuclear enrichment facility and the artillery attack on the South. The enrichment plant allows for reflected glory to shine on Jong-Un while the father-son visit to the base that shelled South Korean territory left no doubt of who Kim Jong-Il prefers succeed him:
North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong Island that killed two South Korean marines and two civilians on Tuesday was probably ordered by Kim Jong-il himself, the Joongang Daily quoted a well-informed government source as saying.
Seoul government officials contacted by Reuters could not comment on the reports.
The United States says it believes North Korea's actions were an isolated act tied to leadership changes in Pyongyang, and many experts say the North carried out the shelling to burnish the image of the inexperienced and little-known younger Kim.
The ailing leader is desperate to give a lift to his youngest son, named as heir apparent to the family dynasty in September, but who has little clear support in the military.
South Korean media reported the father and son had met General Kim Kyok-sik, the commander of the frontline fourth corps in charge of a Navy base in South Hwanghae province, just before the North shelled the island.
A member of the National Assembly's Defense Committee said military intelligence obtained the information and was trying to figure out whether the visit was directly related to the attack, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
Kim Jong-Il would like nothing better to retire and ascend bodily into heaven. And you can bet as long as there is breath in him, he will work tirelessly to place his son on the throne he will be vacating.