Thursday, December 22, 2011


for North Korea?

Some interesting ruminations here. A couple of intriguing snippets:
Kim Jong Il’s funeral committee list offers hints that the Korean Workers’ Party (WPK) might be on the rise somewhat, but it is difficult to imagine it surpassing the army in importance. The military is also well represented on the funeral committee and curiously, Jang Song Thaek—widely regarded as Kim Jong Un’s closest ally—was way down the list in 19th place.
Is "Jang" simply keeping a low profile while remaining comfortably ensconced in his role as regent?

They, and Central Military Commission members, know that they can ill afford to anger the Chinese at such a sensitive time. Whatever internal logic might exist for a military provocation, it probably would not outweigh risking the support that they earned through several trips to China over 2010 and 2011. It would endanger the very political order they are trying to secure.

News media has a stake in conflict, so the thematic emphasis has been very much about the potential for instability. Right now, though, quiet is in everybody’s interests. Most of all, for the North Korean leadership.

UPDATE: More here from Scott Snyder. An interesting snippet:
And I take it this funeral will not be attended by Western leaders?

That's right; it's all just a domestic affair. No foreign leaders invited.
It is interesting to contemplate how this squares with the consistent DPRK propaganda that emphasizes the global stature and status of the Kims. Perhaps the KCNA will inform us that grieving world leaders expressed their desire to come but couldn't make it because of bad weather?

UPDATE II: Jack Pritchard makes some predictions.
Kim Jong Il did not live long enough to even enjoy his elevation to Number One Dictator in Parade Magazine’s December 18 edition.

The consequences for Kim Jong Un because of his father’s abrupt death will be dire. He has virtually no practical experience, no individual power base and a system newly designed to weakly function after Kim Jong Il as check and balance between the military, the party and a regent (Jong SongTaek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law). The problem is that Kim Jong Il elevated the military through his Military First Policy to the point where it is THE power in North Korea and efforts to share power can only come through the diminution of the military – something it will not accept in the mid- to long-term.

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