As the Washington Post reports, as the White House begins to assess what North Korea could become now that Kim Jong Il is dead, the dearth of solid information is a real concern.
No one is demanding that President Obama take a stand and declare that it is time for Pyongyang’s ruling elite to step down. Instead, the administration and the rest of the world appear to be in a holding pattern until further word — or action — emerges from North Korea after a mourning period that could last weeks or even months.
“It is scary how little we really know,” said one administration official who closely follows the region and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. “I don’t think you can overstate the concern.”
Officials said they were confident that Kim’s son and anointed heir, Kim Jong Eun, would take over. But they were less sure of his ability to “manage the military and elites who keep the Kim family in power,” another U.S. official said.TIME magazine suggests there could be a ray of hope in this uncertain time -- Kim Jong Un was educated in Switzerland, so perhaps he's willing to do what his father would never do: open up to the West. And in another story, the magazine asks a provocative question: Is reunification with South Korea a possible topic for conversation?
Bits and pieces of information are what we have in an effort to understand North Korea. You would be wise to check out this National Geographic video to learn more about what life was like when Kim Jong Il was in charge.