The Kim is dead, long live the Kim … or not
Kim Jong Il, dictatorial ruler of the hermit kingdom of North Korea, has assumed room temperature. A tearful announcer on the NK news service announced it last night. The 69 year old ruler will be replaced by his 3rd son, Kim Jong un – or at least that’s the announced plan.
There is speculation as to whether or not that will be the final outcome. Kim Jong un will only be the third leader (all from the same family) that NK has had in its relatively brief history. General Thurman, the US commander of troops in South Korea summed the situation up pretty well in his confirmation hearing in June where he warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that the older Kim’s death could increase the military threat on the peninsula, since "Kim Jong-un’s youth and inexperience increase the likelihood of miscalculation, as does the imperative for him to establish credibility with the military hardliners he needs to support succession. These factors make him less predictable in the near-term."
As if to emphasize that point, we have this:
North Korea test-fired a short-range missile off its east coast on Monday, the same day it announced the death of leader Kim Jong-Il, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.
The agency quoted an unnamed government official as saying the missile launch was unrelated to the announcement that Kim had died Saturday of a heart attack.
Naturally, anyone who has observed North Korea knows that nothing like that is “unrelated”. Everything is tightly controlled and done for a purpose. And the missile firing is not an “unrelated” incident.
This will be a situation to watch closely. The military is a very powerful faction in NK. And you have to figure there are those within its upper hierarchy that would like to see a change in leadership, most likely to an even harder line that now. Dangerous times on the Korean peninsula as this leadership position plays out.