Thursday, December 29, 2011

North Korean Gets a New Leader -What to Expect

Kim Jong-un, the new leader of North Korea, met Monday with a private delegation of prominent South Koreans, his first face-to-face encounter with any visitors from the estranged South since assuming the top spot a week ago when his father’s death was announced. Everyone has been on tip-toes trying to figure out how this young man is going to assert his leadership and where he intends to take North Korea.

Kim Jong-un’s announced elevation to the leadership of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee came two days after the North’s state-run news media published an entreaty for him to become supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, whose support is considered crucial to his consolidation of power. The top officers also moved quickly to swear their allegiance to Mr. Kim.

Since Kim Jong-il’s death was announced on Dec. 19, a series of pronouncements from North Korea have indicated that Kim Jong-un, his third and youngest son, was rapidly consolidating his grip on power by assuming top titles, or that whoever was rallying the key agencies of power behind the young leader was ensuring that the son would not share power, at least in the public eye.

Kim Jong-un is believed to be in his late 20s. There has been no indication that he had worked in the government or the military before his father, who had a stroke in 2008, unveiled him as his successor last year and put him on a path to be groomed as heir.

The same slogan was used for his father when he was alive. Over the weekend, the North Korean news media were giving the son the same honorifics previously reserved for his father: “heaven-sent leader,” “the sun of the 21st century” and eobeoi, the Korean word for parent, which North Korea has used only for Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung, the North’s founding president.

It is obvious that this guy is swiftly moving into the same total power position occupied by his father and grandfather. So far, there does not appear to be any power sharing struggles or claims, as had been anticipated by some analysts. There was also a lot of nervousness that he would have to show how tough he is by provoking an incident with the South, something that always runs the risk of escalation out of control. I think this is still a very real possibility, but I don't think it will happen for a little while. He needs to finish securing his position and although he needs the military to do that, they dislike and distrust his aunt and uncle who are the only civilians with enough power to challenge him. He is not likely to try and provoke an incident until he needs to impress the military and I don't think he'll need to do that for a few months at least.

After that I do not think we can expect much change at all. Some people are pointing to the fact that he was educated in Switzerland and may have a softer approach in dealing with the west as a result. I doubt it. As an heir of Kim jung il, while he may have been indulged, he was tightly controlled and watched. If anything, he may show signs of being a spoiled and over indulged child -and that could actually complicate matters more.

We'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, relax and have a drink -but keep your powder dry.

Live Lone and Prosper.....

No comments: