Perhaps not since a two-year-old boy named Puyi was declared heir to China’s crumbling Qing Dynasty has so much responsibility, and so little chance of success, been inherited by someone so young and unprepared. Worries abound, both for North Koreans, and the country’s neighbours.
Once all the forced and melodramatic mourning for Kim Jong-il is over, the challenge that will come fast for the younger Mr. Kim – who was anointed yesterday as the “Great Successor” by North Korean state television – is how he will explain the next big failure to a people desperate to see their lives improve. In a country where propaganda is truth, the regime Kim Jong-un now leads needs either some proof that the country is indeed strong and prosperous, or someone to blame for falling so far short.State television later provided video of people mourning the death of "Dear Leader".
CNN notes that the South Korean military was placed on high alert shortly after the news of Kim Jong Il's death was reported on state television. And, as the New York Times adds, the North Koreans decision to test-fire missiles increases the anxiety in South Korea.
Granted, there is not enough known about Kim Jong Un, although there is evidence that he was educated in the West. Does that portend a possible opening up of the country? In a separate report, the Globe and Mail says "forget it."
Even if Kim Jong-un did absorb western culture in Switzerland, what does it mean? His father was a film buff whose personal library allegedly included thousands of American movies. Watching Fort Apache or Breakfast at Tiffany’s or E.T. wasn’t enough to turn North Korea’s late dictator into a democrat, so how is a childhood diet of muesli going to do it for his successor? If there is going to be a change in North Korea – and such a change is overdue– odds are it will arise among the wretched, impoverished masses, or at the instigation of a disgruntled army officer, not by an act of dynastic redemption.