Kim Jong-un to Follow in Footsteps of His Father

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By Sarah Sherman

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died December 17th of “physical and mental over-work,” according to a TV news announcer on North Korean state TV. The dictator’s death was kept secret for two days until being released by the news agency. After 17 years of cruel despotism the infamous North Korean leader leaves his country in a state of clamor. His son, Kim Jong-un is to succeed him as the dictator of North Korea. Un is said to be in his late 20s, and was hardly known to have existed until last year when he was introduced to the public.

Kim Jong-il’s death caused great clamor worldwide, both for the future of North Korea, and the resulting effect on other world Powers. Many worry that in the hands of a 20-something who has reportedly never even spoken to another foreign dignitary, the nuclear power house that is North Korea will blow up in our face.

North Korean Authorities assure the rest of the world, with their supportive badges, elaborate praise lavished on Kim Jong-un, as well as a new popularity campaign, that they are fully in support of their new young  leader. But as North Korea is notorious for fabrication and manipulation of public opinion, we can never really be sure. There have been speculations of a military reagent being appointed to run the country due to Jim Jong-un’s inexperience, but no evidence of that has surfaced so far. At least to the public eye it seems that Kim Jong-un is ruling without major assistance from any other government official.

Kim Jong-il’s death comes after 17 years of hard work at continuing the dream that his father, Kim Il-sung, had of transforming the struggling body that comprised North Korea into a nuclear arms factory, and in doing so, has created one of the most guarded communities on the planet. Kim Jong-un is proclaimed to be following faithfully in his father and grandfather’s footsteps with a “military-first” policy.

There is no way of knowing exactly what the outcome of this shift in power will be, but chances are, the change will continue to unfold as a historic event for North Korea and the rest of the world. As an ineffable force that has managed to stay powerful in some of the most trying social and economic conditions, it is without much doubt that North Korea will continue to use brash and hedonistic methods of maintaining a façade of inner tranquility, despite their new dictator. With Google, cell phones, most foreign visitors and news banned from the public eye of North Korea, what we see as a dangerous political pattern is portrayed to North Koreans as the ascension of a new “great successor” to the seat of control.

Even as we see Kim Jong-un rise to power and the citizens of North Korea embrace him as their next “beloved ruler”, there is no way of really knowing what is going on behind the veil of calculated propaganda that dominates the face of North Korean politics. The plans for a new dictator in the event of Kim Jong-il’s death have been in effect ever since he was made ruler in the first place. This was most likely not a snap decision, and with the insertion of Kim Jong-un as new ruler comes a barrage of Korean political and military leaders that will assist Un in his reign.

A former American military commander who wished to remain anonymous recently stated; “There are a whole range of scenarios for when Kim dies, anyone who tells you they understand what is going to happen is either lying or deceiving himself.” (New York Times)

In the wake of a major power shift, the people of North Korea are deeply saddened, the military is in a state of heightened defense, and the international political powers are keeping vigilant watch.

A massive funeral service took place on December 28th in Pyongyang, to celebrate the late leader’s ruling history. The following day, a three-minute “national meeting of mourning” took place; requiring all North Koreans to pay a tribute of three-minutes of silence and observation to the late Kim Jong-il. His body is now on display in a glass coffin at the Kumsusan mausoleum in Pyongyang.