Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s “Dear Leader” has died at the age of 69 of an apparent heart attack, while traveling on a train during an inspection tour, presumably of military exercises. There is a vested interest in the future of North Korea, especially with the naming of Kim Jung Un as Kim Jong Il’s successor. Kim Jong Un is the youngest son of Kim Jong Il. He is either 27 or 28 years old, educated in Bern, Switzerland and is assumed to carry on with his father’s medieval policies.
Kim Jong Il has been a threat to stability in the Asia-Pacific region since he assumed power after the death of his father in 1994. Under Kim Jong Il, North Korea became a nuclear threat and defied US & allied calls for a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula. The US must now assess whether Kim’s successor, his son Kim Jong Un, will be any less defiant than his father on nuclear matters.
Former US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who led the delegation of the six-party nuclear talks on North Korea, said he believed Kim Jong-un was ”not ready” to take the helm.
Although considered unrelated to Kim Jong Il’s death, South Korea’s YTN TV reported the firing of a missile by North Korea on
its Eastern coast. Firing of missiles by the North Korean military is not uncommon.
Brainwashing of the North Korean people that were starved by the regime, was very apparent as images are being flashed around the world of the North Korean people mourning their “Dear Leader.”
The named successor, Kim Jong Un is unknown, inexperienced and untested.
Thought to be aged around 27, Kim Jong-un Had already been made a four-star general and occupied a prominent political post when he was reported to have made an important diplomatic visit to neighbouring China in May this year.
On the trip, he introduced himself to the destitute North’s main benefactor, possibly one of the most crucial diplomatic moves he will ever make.
“The rest of the world is going to have to look at someone who is basically a kid as having China’s support to be the North’s next leader,” Yang Moo-min, of Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, said at the time.
The youngest of the leader’s three sons, Kim was most likely born in 1984. His name in Chinese characters translates as “righteous cloud” while the media calls him “the young general.”
Educated in Switzerland, he is thought to speak English and German, and bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather, the North’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
Analysts say two attacks on the peninsula last year, which killed 50 South Koreans, were aimed at winning the army’s support for a continuation of dynastic rule and underscored an intent to maintain the state’s military-first policy.
Experts say the young Kim is likely to follow the same militaristic path, maintaining a strong grip over one of the world’s largest armies and pressing on with a nuclear weapons programme in the face of international outrage. National Post
The coming weeks and months will be crucial to see the direction that North Korea is going. The main player with influence will be China. The United States in co-operation with China and South Korea will have to monitor the situation closely. Although Kim Jon Un has a Western education, this has never been a guarantee that positive change will occur.
A Chinese North Korean expert, Zhang Liangui, at the Beijing Party School, believes that this will be ultimately good news.
“I think it’s ultimately good news.”
“I think it’s good news, because North Korea will finally have to change. Whether those changes will be for the better or the worse, we’ll have to wait and see. But there’s no doubt that change is needed and inevitable.”
“There might be intense power struggles before the situation stabilizes, and only then will any changes in foreign policy become clear.
”I’d estimate that process will take six months to a year.“