Kim reportedly names youngest son as successor in North Korea

The world's first hereditary communist monarchy has apparently decided on a succession plan for ailing pot-bellied dictator Kim Jong Il. The Associated Press reports that his youngest son Kim Jong Un, 26, is already the subject of songs of praise being taught to the North Koreans, as they prepare to shower him with the customary enforced adulation.

North Korea's power structure is maddeningly opaque, but it is assumed that senior military officials carry some weight when it comes to matters of succession, and it has been hypothesized that the recent displays of weapons capability have some relation to the succession issue, perhaps as a means of unifying the country around support for the new dictator.

My biggest worry is that Jong Un will feel the necessity of further belligerence in order to earn credibility domestically. On the other hand, he was schooled in Switzerland, is reported to speak English and other European languages, and may, for all we know, be far more cosmopolitan in attitude than his father and grandfather were. However, these very qualities may make him an object of suspicion on the part of the other members of the North Korean power elite, and could even cause him to be even more insular and xenophobic, in order to prove his credibility.

I would not rule out internal turmoil over the succession. On the other hand, there is probably no place on earth more paranoid about its enemies and fearful of losing power, so the urge to unify under the new ruler, and thereby preserve their own power, may cause the military commanders to unify behind the new monarch.

One thing seems certain: The North Korean people have had no say in the succession, and their interests count for nothing among the power elite.
The world's first hereditary communist monarchy has apparently decided on a succession plan for ailing pot-bellied dictator Kim Jong Il. The Associated Press reports that his youngest son Kim Jong Un, 26, is already the subject of songs of praise being taught to the North Koreans, as they prepare to shower him with the customary enforced adulation.

North Korea's power structure is maddeningly opaque, but it is assumed that senior military officials carry some weight when it comes to matters of succession, and it has been hypothesized that the recent displays of weapons capability have some relation to the succession issue, perhaps as a means of unifying the country around support for the new dictator.

My biggest worry is that Jong Un will feel the necessity of further belligerence in order to earn credibility domestically. On the other hand, he was schooled in Switzerland, is reported to speak English and other European languages, and may, for all we know, be far more cosmopolitan in attitude than his father and grandfather were. However, these very qualities may make him an object of suspicion on the part of the other members of the North Korean power elite, and could even cause him to be even more insular and xenophobic, in order to prove his credibility.

I would not rule out internal turmoil over the succession. On the other hand, there is probably no place on earth more paranoid about its enemies and fearful of losing power, so the urge to unify under the new ruler, and thereby preserve their own power, may cause the military commanders to unify behind the new monarch.

One thing seems certain: The North Korean people have had no say in the succession, and their interests count for nothing among the power elite.