The citizens of the north have spent their entire lives, indeed the older parents/grandparents have spent most of theirs, under the regime established by
Kim Jong-Il was the product of his father, Kim Il-Sung's totalitarian state and its personality cult. Aside from being groomed for the top spot and taking over after his father's death in 1994, Jong-Il has done little to change the system that is the baby and brainchild of his father.
Kim Il-Sung spent almost his entire adult life, from age 17 to his ascension to North Korean leadership, in the career of a revolutionary. A number of cross China-Korea border attacks were conducted as he led a guerrilla band against the occupying Japanese. Of note is the fact that the vast majority of his pre-presidential adult life was spent in
Prior to the practically unopposed arrival of the Soviet army into
Again, little has changed since that time. Jong-Il experienced some resistance to his power, including a reported attempt at the creation of an autonomous zone by an army general that may have been a marital relation of Kim. It is believed that his son and successor Kim Jong Un will be supported by a sort of regency of his Uncle Jang Song Thaek until he is ready to assume his role in a grandfather-to son to-grandson succession of power.
This of course has many wondering if the South will be able to proceed with a possible merger with the north if the complete economic collapse of that country happens earlier than expected. It is believed that the South Korean government would have preferred that it could complete the merger in small, digestible doses as opposed to all at the same time, as occurred with
During much of the period from the Korean War to roughly the 1980’s, the fear as that the north would takes steps to forcefully unify with the south as they had a strong military advantage. This especially would have been the case if the regime could have made the operation proceed as quickly as possible and therefore avoid a protracted conflict against the superior logistical resources of the south and its American allies. By the 80s the turning point had arrived where the south, buoyed by a strong economy, had developed a quite strong military force of its own and consequently was no longer under the same fear of attack. Today the threat of a significant attack from the north is very low.
One also wonders if there will be any appreciable opposition to Jong Un's power. It would not be surprising if certain army leaders, eager to either ensure their own positions and/or to set themselves up to avoid criminal charges for human rights violations in the event of a nationwide collapse, will seek to assert more independence of the Kim family.
It would not be a complete surprise if some of them will try to reach out to the south in order to present themselves as dissenting and desirous of reform.
I find it highly unlikely that the north will continue indefinitely with the status quo as even they must know that they can not go on much longer without appreciable help and restructuring
One move that the regime may consider is to move closer into the orbit of
It is also possible that either Jong-Un decides to or is pressured by other influential members of the ruling elite to reach out to the south and the
The coming year will be interesting.
12/28/11 - *Recent news reports have described Chinese leaders as having previously expressed their acceptance of a possible ROK (South) Korean - led merger. They did, or course, draw the line at US troops being moved north of the 38th parallel. I can't blame them for that.