Reasons Behind Kim Jong-il's Recent China Visit

In this frame grab made off undated North Korea's Korean Central Television (KCTV) footage aired on October 11, 2008 North Korean leader Kim Jong Il claps as he inspects a female military unit in North Korea. (Korean Central Television/Yonhap via Getty Images)

Let's face it. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been visiting China a little too frequently lately. From the looks of it, Kim was probably trying to avoid former US President Jimmy Carter's visit to Pyongyang to free an American prisoner. For China, North Korea, might be "that crazy uncle who lives up in the attic" but may have an ulterior motive. Asia Society Associate Fellow Kongdan Oh said, "The best guess is that the hastily arranged trip was meant to serve two related purproses."

"First," Oh said, "it provided Kim with an opportunity to introduce his third son and designated heir to Hu Jintao, the top leader of China, who made a trip to this far corner of the country to meet with Kim."

"A second reason is to provide more legitimacy for the young Kim's succession. By taking his son to visit some of the places where his grandfather lived in exile during the Japanese colonial period, Kim can present his son at the upcoming Party conference as someone who is following in the footsteps of the Great Leader down memory lane, as South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper phrased it."