IR Review Staff Blog: “A Transition to Peace or a Continuation of Control?”

IR Review

Dec. 22, 2011, IR Review Staff Blog

By Fatima Mohie-Eldin

North Koreans seem to be experiencing a period of extreme grief since the death of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s supreme leader, on Dec. 17, 2011, according to an announcement broadcasted by the state-run station KRT.

Kim, who died of a heart attack at the age of 69, is being held at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. The KRT reporter, who was dressed in black and seemingly holding back tears, made the announcement two days after he reportedly died.

While North Koreans appear to be crying hysterically at the site, a wide celebration has broken out in the streets of Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

Kim Jong-un, Kim’s youngest son, is expected to become the next leader of the communist nation, just as Kim succeeded his own father, Kim Il-sung, in 1994.

Kim Jong-un, 28, first rose in political status in 2010 when he received the rank of four-star military general and then vice chairman of the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission, according to a BBC report last year.

This resemble former-leader Kim’s own rise to power toward the end of his father’s reign. For at least the past year Kim Jong-un has been groomed to take over the family dynasty and, in the wake of his father’s death, has received praise from the media.

However, despite the abundance of accolades being bestowed upon Kim Jong-un, many in South Korea maintain mixed feelings about the young son taking power.  International observers place significant emphasis on the transfer of power in North Korea as they hope that relations between North and South Korea will improve.  The rise of this new, incoming leader sparks both hope and fear among South Koreans.  While some people said they feel that Kim Jong-un is too inexperienced to make an effective leader, others express hope that a new and younger leader of for North Korea will pave the way for reconciliation between the two nations that were once one unified.  Still, a number of people have said they think that Kim Jong-un will only continue to rule the way his father did and create no real change.

Although it is still uncertain what impact Kim Jong-un will have on North Korea’s policies, the fact still remains that this transition of power from father to son can potentially have significant bearing on the future of relations between North and South Korea, as well as relations between North Korea and the rest of the world.

For more information please visit:

[1] Kim Jong-il dead: profile of ‘the Dear Leader’

[2] Kim Jong-il’s son steps closer to power

[3] Kim Jong Il’s Death Sparks Fears, Hopes in SKorea

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