Thursday, December 22, 2011

North Korea will shift to collective rule

North Korea will shift to collective rule from a strongman dictatorship after last week's death of Kim Jong-il, although his untested young son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said.

The source added that the military, which is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal, has pledged allegiance to the untested Kim Jong-un, who takes over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since it was founded after World War Two.

The comments are the first signal that North Korea is following a course that many analysts have anticipated -- it will be governed by a group of people for the first time since it was founded in 1948.

The situation in North Korea appeared stable after the military gave its backing to Kim Jong-un, the source said. "It's very unlikely," the source said when asked about the possibility of a military coup. "The military has pledged allegiance to Kim Jong-un."

North Korea's collective leadership will include Kim Jong-un, his uncle and the military, the source said. Jang Song-thaek, 65, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il and the younger Kim's uncle, is seen as the power behind the throne along with his wife Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il's sister. So too is Ri Yong-ho, the rising star of the North's military and currently its most senior general.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Premature to predict a Pyongyang Spring

What does Kim's death mean for East Asia and for the United States?

This is a region that matters. East Asia is the world's major economic hub and a focal point of the Obama administration's global strategy. The 38th Parallel that divides North and South Korea is, moreover, a major geopolitical fault line. On one side is North Korea, backed by China. On the other is South Korea, bound by alliance to the United States. Nowhere, save Taiwan, is regional conflict more likely to embroil the world's sole superpower and its Chinese challenger.

The question is this: Does Kim's death make regional and world politics more or less stable? The future is unknowable, but some perspective may help us to gauge the stakes, especially insofar as American interests are concerned.

We should beware appealing but misleading analogies. It would be premature to predict a "Pyongyang Spring." North Korea is a regime quite different from Hosni Mubarak's Egypt. A Stalinist relic of the Cold War, North Korea is authentically totalitarian -- not just authoritarian -- and far less vulnerable than was Egypt to the challenge of civil society.

The passing of a dictator who has ruled for three decades will be traumatic nonetheless. South Korea and the United States should be prepared for a phase of uncertainty, even testing, across the 38th Parallel.

The more interesting question, though, is where the regime's new masters will go over the medium to long term. The fact is that North Korea has backed itself into an unfavorable corner. It is poor, benighted and dependent on China, its mighty patron. The change in leadership may yet provide an opportunity to plot a new course. Here, the key issue will be how Kim Jong Un positions himself in relation to Beijing. China's rise has, after all, sent other East Asian countries scattering toward Washington. 

--Daniel Sargent, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea and China remain as close as lips and teeth

When Kim Jong Il last visited China to  introduce his heir apparent, Kim Jong Un, to the Chinese senior leadership , he also asked for continued economic and military aid and political support. China-North Korean ties are so close they are frequently described "as close as lips and teeth."

Read more

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong Il dies

The leadership of North Korea appeared to pass to a third generation of the Kim family Monday after the weekend death of Kim Jong Il, who ruled the reclusive Stalinist state since 1994.

The man known as the "dear leader" died of a heart attack Saturday at age 69, state news outlets announced Monday. The ruling Worker's Party declared the youngest of his three sons, Kim Jong Un, the "great successor" to his father's mantle.

The news of his death spurred South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North more than five decades after their 1950-53 conflict, to put its military on high alert. But across one of the world's most heavily fortified borders, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told his citizens "to go about their lives" in the meantime.

On North Korea's state television network, a tearful anchor broke the news Monday morning. The news was followed by scenes of similarly emotional residents of the capital Pyongyang.

The network said Kim died of "overwork" while "dedicating his life to the people." And the official news agency KCNA said Kim suffered "great mental and physical strain" while on a train.

KCNA acknowledged that Kim had been treated for "cardiac and cerebrovascular diseases for a long period." He suffered a heart attack on Saturday.

Know your Kim's

Monday, December 05, 2011

December 9 Worldwide Demonstration Protesting Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

On December 9 -- the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations Genocide Convention -- a call has gone out to organize protests and hunger strikes in front of DPRK/PRC/UN offices worldwide. There are three main objectives of these international protests to take place on December 9:

1) To bring unprecedented pressure upon not both North Korea and the international community to meaningfully address the horrific crimes being perpetuated systematically by North Korea.
2) To influence and awaken global public opinion to the real, genocidal nature of the North Korean regime.
3) To create a watershed movement for the liberation of NK itself.

Protests confirmed this far include: 
New York City
12:00pm: Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan, silent march to DPRK Mission to the UN
1:00pm: Demonstration at DPRK Mission to the UN
Speech by North Korean Defector Activist Ji Seong Ho (President of NAUH)
ent Coordinator: 

Seoul, Republic of Korea
3:00pm ~ 4:00pm: Demonstration at Seoul Station Plaza
4:00pm ~ 5:00pm: March to UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)
7:30pm ~ 8:30pm: Candlelight rally in Seoul Plaza
Event Coordinator: 

Berlin, Germany
3:00pm ~ 6:00pm: Demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate
Event Coordinator: 

Tokyo, Japan
12:00pm ~ 12:50pm Demonstration at Hachiko Square in Shibuya, Tokyo
1:30pm: Demonstration at Chongryon
Event Coordinator: 

London, UK
1:00pm ~ 3:00pm Demonstration at North Korea Embassy
Event Coordinator: