Kim Jong Un Replaces Kim Jong Il- Hawkish 29 Year Old Rules North Korea
The portly, competitive, and self-absorbed heir of Kim Jong Il, who breathed his last on the 17th or 18th of December, is a son of privilege who went to private schools in Switzerland and who is known in many circles to be rather hawkish with regards to North Korea’s foreign policy. Kim Jong Un does not have the experience to lead a troop of window washers let alone a nation, but his petulant fingers will control North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
What we know about Kim Jong Un is that he is extremely competitive and self-absorbed, he likes his drink, and he was a middling student, albeit in an advanced academic program. The youngest child of Kim Jong Il’s many children, to one of his consorts, Jong Un is every bit his father’s favorite boy, emulating the elder tyrant in many ways.
The missile test on the east coast of North Korea on the day his father’s death was announced cannot be taken as anything less than a signal to the world that Jong Un is in charge and will not be any easier to deal with then his father.
The Kim dynasty in the North is, however, in crisis and faces the very real possibility of losing power as North Korea’s food situation and financial situation continue to deteriorate. Take away the illicit trade on weapons, particularly nuclear technology and missile technology, and North Korea would have no real hard currency or international trade.
The North now faces a tripartite world in which they must navigate between Russia, China, and America, with Japan at present playing a growing but secondary role in the region. Russia tends to pursue confrontation with the US, China seems more interested in at least appearing to favor good relationships with the US although it claims a larger role of influence in the region, and the US is more or less interested in keeping the status-quo intact and unchanged.
Will the North continue to lean towards China, will they seek to find conciliation with the US to open up the spigot to foreign aid, or will the North lean towards Russia which seeks a more confrontational stance with the US and a rebirth of its lost empire? The lack of information on Jong Un’s stances on these issues, other than his general similarity with his father’s bellicose disposition, makes coming to a conclusion on this question an impossible task.
At present South Korea’s military is on alert, mostly for fear of instability in the North, but the North seems content, for now, to lob a missile into the ocean to prove to the world, and itself, that is still can!