Tuesday, June 9, 2009

North Korea and the Kim Jong Dynasty: Not All Countries are the Same

We got a rare glimpse of North Korea's political life today, in an interview with one of Kim Jong Il's sons, Kim Jong Nam.
"...Kim Jong Nam told TV Asahi in Macau that he does not care about politics or succeeding his father.

" 'Personally, I am not interested in this issue (succession),' he said in an interview with the Japanese television network. 'Sorry, I am not interested in the politics.'

"The rules governing transfer of power in the secretive communist nation are unclear.

"Kim Jong Il rules without challenge and has built a cult of personality around himself and his family...."

"...There has been speculation that Kim Jong Nam would defect from North Korea and that a purge of his supporters was under way. He told Asahi he saw no reason for leaving his homeland." (CNN)
I think that Kim Jong Nam showed the sort of (apparently) clear thinking and astuteness that has made Kim Jong Il's regime so lastingly successful. Whatever Kim Jong Nam's plans for the future are, he's more likely to live long enough to carry them out, if he doesn't annoy his father.

I do not think that the ruling dynasty of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has acted responsibly as leaders. I do, however, think that Kim Jong Il, at least, has demonstrated the ability, and the will, to maintain a high standard of living for himself, his family, and - probably - his closest followers.

Who will succeed Kim Jong Il in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea isn't at all clear. It's quite possible that his youngest known son, Kim Jong Un, will succeed Kim Jong Il.

Sons of Kim Jong Il:
  • Kim Jong Nam
    • Age 37 or 38
    • Son of Kim Jong Il's first wife
  • Kim Jong Chul
    • Age 28
    • Son of Koh Young Hee
  • Kim Jong Un
    • Born in 1983 (age about 26)
    • Son of Koh Young Hee
    Times Online
Koh Young Hee has been referred to as Respected Mother by DPRK state media.

Kim Jong Il named a Successor, and Kim Jon Nam isn't Complaining - So What?

I really don't know what will happen when Kim Jong Il dies, or is no longer able to hang on to his leadership position. It may be that his wishes will be respected, and a previously-named successor will take over. Maybe that successor will be Kim Jong Un. It's also possible that there will be a very messy period, as factions in North Korea's government try to out-purge each other.

Since North Korea is now in the second generation of the Kim Jong dynasty, I think it's more likely than not that Kim Jong Il's wishes will be carried out. The purges that seem to be under way will help, I think, make that outcome even more likely.

I think that, when it comes, the third generation of the Kim Jong dynasty will be more of the same for the rest of the world. There's every indication that Kim Jong Il's youngest son is, in addition to being his father's favorite, gifted with the skills and attributes that made Kim Jong Il the leader he has been.

Although I generally prefer smooth transitions of authority, I'm not entirely happy about the prospect of another generation of North Korean diplomacy. Particularly since the DPRK will probably be producing more effective nuclear bombs, and missiles with longer ranges in the near future.

My concern is not only for Alaska Hawaii, and other American states that will be in range of North Korean missiles.

The people in North Korea will be increasingly at risk, as their government threatens countries which may be less inhibited than America. Sooner or later, I think it's likely that leaders of China, Russia, or another nation in North Korea's cross hairs, will decide to take immediate, practical, and irreversible steps to neutralize the threat.

North Korea, Burma / Myanmar, India and Germany - They're Not All Alike

The comments in another post started with a familiar approach: "No matter what you think of North Korea, they are a sovereign country...." Technically, this is true. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the government of a country, and that country is sovereign.

The implication, that North Korea's government is just like every other national government, is not, I think, true. Like the ruling junta of Burma / Myanmar, North Korea's government is very far from "transparent," and enforces its preferences with a crude effectiveness that would bring howls of protest in America. Assuming, of course, that the protesters were still alive.

Apparently, what I regard as the cheap sophistication of viewing the government of North Korea and Hamas as equivalent to the leadership of countries like Italy and Japan, is still fairly popular. I've written about this before (April 5, 2009, January 3, 2009).1

Related posts: In the news:
1 Interestingly, the ruling junta in Burma / Myanmar doesn't seem to get quite the same consideration as North Korea's leadership. I think that's partly because the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, and other national leaders are a military junta, not leaders of a workers' paradise, and that they still have a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Ky, under house arrest. (Burma, World Factbook, CIA (last updated May 26, 2009)) I don't think that a natural disaster and a brutally well-managed election helped the junta look good, either.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.