The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Smooth Succession in North Korea

In a move that will surprise no one, the ruling North Korea’s Workers’ Party announced Monday that Kim Jong-un will formally inherit his father’s place as Despot-in-Chief during a Party conference in mid-April. (With the transmission of supreme power underway, will Kim the younger also take on his father’s title as the world’s largest consumer of Hennessy cognac?)

Hopes that the chaos of succession would create room for some form of domestic shakeup were never particularly realistic, and they appear to be even less so now, as Kim moves effortlessly into his father’s place.

Via Meadia will keep a close eye on the transition. If Kim Jong-un follows in his father’s footsteps and continues to pursue a robust nuclear arsenal, relations among China, Japan, and the United States might come under renewed strain. With the Great Game heating up, things are about to become much more interesting around the East China Sea.

Published on February 22, 2012 4:30 pm
  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    I have spent time observing what Mugabe did to Zimbabwe and it is tragic. but at least a hereditary succession seems unlikely. North Korea’s agony is far worse and apparently no end in sight. If I were president I would say quietly to China: Just annex the place and we will send tribute, and dancing girls, and proclaim it Manifest Destiny.

  • Mark in Texas

    Sadly, nobody performed the Mugabe operation on Kim Il Sung before he reproduced. Of course, Burma is more of a hereditary oligopoly than a hereditary monarchy yet they seem to be doing their darndest to emulate North Korea.

  • Lyle Smith

    I was thinking the same thing… how long can North Korea exist? We can’t let it go on indefinitely and hope it just falls apart, or must we?

  • http://None Jerry Arnold

    North Korea will go on as long as the Chinese want it to. Watch Baby Kim and his handlers but watch the Chinese even more closely. A democratic, capitalist South Korea scares the Chinese far more than a nuclear-armed but broke North Korea.

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    Kidding aside I think Jerry Arnold has the right idea. My sense is that China is still invested in not losing face over the Korean war and not about to let Korea reunite – even though the situation is absurd.