Posted by: mulrickillion | December 20, 2011

Kim Jong Il’s Death: North Korea Waits for Kim Jong Un to Consolidate Power

Korea Kim Jong Il

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il salutes while watching a military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation’s ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang on Oct. 10, 2010. Vincent Yu / AP.

By Bill Powell, Dec 19, 2011 — The iconic painting hangs everywhere in North Korea — in the offices of party functionaries and in homes, in factories and in schools. Kim Il Sung, founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is depicted with his son Kim Jong Il. They are standing in front of Mount Paektu, a sacred site where, legend has it, the first kingdom of Korea was formed. The image is the most familiar representation of a ruling dynasty that has, in just two generations, ground North Korea into abject poverty and international isolation. Both men are gone now — the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il dying on Dec. 17 of a heart attack at age 69, just as his father did 17 years ago. In the wake of his departure, all eyes are on the young man who isn’t in the picture: 29-year-old Kim Jong Un. . . .

Kim Jong Il’s death comes just days after a bilateral meeting in Beijing between U.S. and DPRK officials, at which U.S. special envoy for human rights Robert King held talks with a senior DPRK foreign ministry official. Unconfirmed press reports in Seoul say Pyongyang agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency back into the country to impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests and to suspend its uranium-enrichment program, in return for 240,000 tons of food aid. However, analysts believe that this diplomatic momentum may be slowed by Kim Jong Il’s death. As Kim Jong Un consolidates his political power, "North Korea will become even more inward-looking, at least for a while," says Bruce Klingner, senior fellow at the Heritage Institute and a former North Korea watcher at the CIA.

The good news, for an outside world that lives in fear of erratic behavior from the North, is that the younger Kim has had three years to prepare for the assumption of dictatorial power. "There’s less of a concern about instability now than had Kim Jong Il died three years ago," Klingner says. At the same time, the DPRK has gone through a transition like this only once before, and that was when Kim Jong Il was 52 years old. The country is once again having problems feeding itself, its economy is moribund, and problems are falling to a 29-year-old. . . .

Kim Jong Il Dies: North Korea Looks to His Son Kim Jong Un – TIME

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