Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Taking the Reins

The news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death is still reverberating around the world as the west is wondering what will happen next.

Normally the Hermit Kingdom rarely allows many images of the country seep outside, but with the passing of the 69 year old, the regime is anxious to show it is in control. There are now pictures of Kim's body lying in state under a glass coffin and grieving mourners.

Much of the focus is on Kim's youngest son and successor Kim Jong-un, who was introduced to the world over a year ago, believed to be in his late 20s.

The sudden death of the older Kim of a heart attack while on a train reveals the leadership succession may have taken place a little too late, giving the younger Kim not enough time to understand the seriousness of his newly-inherited role.

Many wonder how military generals older than Kim Jong-un's father will treat their new leader, as Kim Jong-un has never spent one day in the army despite becoming vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party and a four-star general last year.

Also the rest of the Northern Korean population are expected to mourn for their Dear Leader for 13 days, a long period that BBC is reporting not everyone is complying to.

While there are images showing extreme grief of loud wailing and falling on their knees, the people are also expected to give their respects to this young person who has no tested leadership skills or knowledge.

So while the rest of the world watches for signs from North Korea, they are also looking towards China for signals too.

Beijing has already endorsed Kim Jong-un in official statements and invited the young leader to China for a visit at a "convenient time".

There are expectations Kim will try to maintain stability while trying to establish his power and influence.

Meanwhile the people will be hoping their new leader understands the state is practically unsustainable in its pursuit of nuclear weapons over food to feed the population.

Perhaps the one advantage Kim Jong-un has is that his facial features resemble those of his grandfather Kim Il-sung who is revered as "Eternal President".

As for his ability to lead the nation, only time will tell.

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