Last Stop on the Dear Leader Express
So Kim Jong Il is dead. Taiwan's NMA TV celebrates appropriately. That video is of questionable work safety. But it's hilarious.
The headline of the day comes from Jim Garaghty in the Morning Jolt: Kim Jong Il? No, Kim Jong Dead.
Unfortunately for North Koreans and for the world, there's another Kim to take Il's place. He's the 27-year-old Kim Jong Un, recently elevated to four-star general status and named Il's successor. North Korea is one of two Communist dynasties on earth, Cuba being the other. It's unarguably the most repressive regime in existence.
Un has lived in the West, he studied in Switzerland under an assumed name. Il's former sushi chef hints that Jong Un only became the heir apparent because his older brother was "too feminine" to lead. Il himself had a fascination with all things Western, mainly movies, whiskey and women. There's no reason as of yet to expect that Un will be any less ill than Il.
To get some idea of how crippled North Korea is thanks to the Kim dynasty, take a look at how the people there are coping with the death of the local madman.
I also recommend Lisa Ling's documentary, Inside North Korea. It's available on Netflix and in segments on YouTube. Average North Koreans are victims of brainwashing, manipulation and systemic brutality probably not seen elsewhere in all human history.
North Koreans are noticeably shorter and smaller than their southern capitalist cousins, thanks to decades of deprivation. Theirs is a prison nation, so broken that even North Korean soldiers are starting to brave the frontier in escape attempts -- to China.
The fact is, no one outside Pyongyang, and few inside the North Korean capital, know what to expect from Un. Having family in Japan, North Korea's enemy number one, I've tracked that country's antics and written much about them over the years. Stephen Green runs through several plausible scenarios on the PJ mother ship. But no one really knows what's going to happen.
As Claudia Rossett writes, the US should definitely not repeat the Clinton administration's counter-productive aid after the death of Kim Il Sung.
Of all the nations in the region, China may have the most to fear from instability in North Korea. A refugee crisis could swamp the border with frail North Koreans, who may be leaving behind a collapsing state that possesses nuclear weapons, in the grips of a civil war.
Or, more likely, Un just picks up where his Il father left off.