Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea after Kim Jong-il

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-il died suddenly on December 17, and his son Kim Jong-un is expected to succeed the position. Most of the experts around the globe foresee that Jong-un is too young and inexperienced to govern the country, and it takes a while to found his power base.

However, Richard Bush, Director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, comments “We cannot rule out the chance, small as it may be, that the regency will assess the failures of the Kim Jong-il reign and undertake true reform” (“Kim Jong-un’s Shaky Hold on Power in North Korea”; Daily Beast; December 19, 2011). Michael Mazza, Senior Research Associate at the American Enterprise Institute, argues furthermore that the Obama administration seize this opportunity to make a big progress in denuclearization talk with North Korea (“President Obama’s ‘wait-and-see approach’ to North Korea?”; Enterprise Blog; December 19, 2011).

Currently, it is urgent to freeze uranium enrichment program of Pyongyang. North Korea has plutonium to make four to eight nuclear bombs. The second step for North Korean nuclear project must be stopped in the nuclear negotiation this week (“Exploiting Kim's death”; Chicago Tribune; December 20, 2011).

America should not “lead from behind”, and close ties with Japan and South Korea will be increasingly necessary to manage unpredictable changes in North Korea. In addition, we should not assume that China can use decisive influence on Pyongyang as political process in this country is so opaque and isolated from the global community.

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