So Kim Jong-il is finally dead. That can’t be a bad thing, right? Perhaps Hennessy will get cheaper now that one of their biggest customers has stopped placing orders?
As I write this, a spectacle the likes of which probably hasn’t been seen in a generation is unfolding in Pyongyang to put the DPRK‘s “Dear Leader” to rest. It’s really too bad that when he died a big hand didn’t come down from the sky – plastic bag wrapped around it – to scoop him up and discard him like so much dog refuse.
Or perhaps he could be turned into Soylent Green to feed a few of his long-suffering people. Alas, that stuff’s made out of people – so this piece of crap wouldn’t qualify.
Thing is, now that he’s gone, what can we expect from the “Great Successor” Kim Jong-un?
The first thing I expect is more of the same. Sure, the kid’s gotten a taste of Western education and he might have had some ideas at some point – but absolute power corrupts absolutely and he will be no different. Even I, if I had as many people kissing my ass as he must have, might become convinced that my derriere was the font of all knowledge.
The Six-party talks will likely be resumed before the northern spring, and I think anyone would expect renewed demands for rice, oil (both the cooking and burning kinds), et cetera. All the usual suspects, and perhaps another thing or two chucked in just to up the ante a bit. Maybe some Space Kimchi?
I also think we’ll see another nuclear test, and that we’ll see it sooner rather than later…perhaps even before the Six-party talks have a chance to resume. We should also expect some sort of artillery barrage across the DMZ – perhaps even toward Yeonpyeong Island, naval exercises, massive troop movement and all that sort of stuff. Maybe even another missile or three over Japan.
And, while they do all that, their state-run media organs will all be spouting vitriol at anyone who will listen.
It’s funny we always say “North Korea’s state-run media” when it’s all state-run there. A free press is anathema to such a system of government – or whatever the heck you can call what they have.
Kim Jong-un (KJU) will want to do this not only to try to scare the pants off South Korea, but to solidify his own fledgling power – to show anyone that might take a shot at him that he’s not one to be trifled with.
I would think that DPRK has had the groundwork laid for another test laid for some time, and that Kim Jong-il was merely waiting for some point in time when he needed our undivided attention. I think right about now would be a good time (at least in Kim Jong-un’s eyes) to get our attention, and nothing gets attention more than a nice seismic shock measured on the other side of the globe.
Of course, this will be young Jong-un’s first foray into International Brinkmanship, so we might just get the nuke test and nothing else. That’s something that can be carried out with a smaller number of people than any of the other available options, and those people are probably so well taken care of that their loyalty is beyond reproach.
But why do anything at all? Why not just sit tight?
The DPRK sustains itself through its adversarial relationship with, well, everyone else. Right now, the West is focused on Iran and the Arab World in general. The Arab Spring has seen revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and almost Yemen, there’s ongoing protest and massacre in Syria and rebellion was violently crushed in Bahrain. Even more governments – Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Morocco, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia have announced or made changes in an attempt to placate protesters. Going back to Egypt for a moment, you’d think that giving Mubarak the boot would be enough but it certainly doesn’t seem to be. I’m not on the ground there, but it almost seems like some Egyptians have made a quasi-occupation of protesting for the sake of it. Not to mention that the USA has just pulled completely out of Iraq and they’re now almost-certainly headed for a renewed – and protracted – civil war that might see the leadership there move closer to Iran. There’s a lot to be worried about over there right now.
So what is the DPRK to do to counter all of that – and it’s surely a lot – without expending too much effort or upsetting the status quo too much? You guessed it – a nuclear test.
I’m going to go even further out onto my limb here and say that I think they’ll test a fusion device if they can manage it at all. The bigger the bang, so the thinking must go, the more attention will be paid to them and the greater the concessions that can be extracted. About that, I think they would be correct. War on the Korean Peninsula is an unthinkable horror, and the South has more than enough money to keep buying them off.
Because, let’s face it, if you gave each of DPRK’s 1.2 Million soldiers a piece of paper and a straw they could still do enough damage to South Korea to completely collapse their economy and draw us all back into another war we can’t win.
Then again, I could be totally wrong. Kim Jong-un could delay making major changes while he consolidates his power, and then he could spring some elections or a ‘peoples caucus’ or something like that – maybe even complete reunification with South Korea is a possibility. I doubt that, but I still hope I’m wrong.
So hang onto your hats, folks, we’re headed back to the brink with these jokers. The only question is how close to the edge they will push this time around.
And I wonder what he likes to drink?