Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Prof. Christoph Bluth - Not many will mourn the passing of Kim Jong-il

04 January 2012 |

Prof. Christoph Bluth - Not many will mourn the passing of Kim Jong-il

Christoph Bluth, Professor of International Studies comments on the implications of the death of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il.

A specialist in iternational security studies, especially nuclear weapons policies and the prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Prof. Bluth writes:

"Kim Jong-il was a cunning player who managed to achieve and maintain his absolute power while manipulating the outside world to support the survival of the regime.

His success came at a price for the North Korean people. The economy collapsed and in the 1990s about one million people died in a famine.

Kim Jong-il rejected economic reform because he knew it would mean the end of his rule. Not many in the outside world will mourn his passing and even China’s condolences are purely formal.

Kim Jong-il failed to prepare his succession properly. His son Kim Jong-un, surgically altered to look like his granddad Kim Il-sung, is still very inexperienced at 28. A dictatorship dynasty rarely survives to the third generation, and now that his father has died, powerful figures in North Korea’s military elite will assert their position before the new power structure consolidates.

There is much potential for instability, no further economic reform can be expected, and the situation on the Korean peninsula has become much more dangerous. Either Kim Jong-un, who has shown he is more hard-line than his father, or his rivals may use attacks against the South to prove their status.

For some time yet, North Korea will remain one of the most dangerous hotspots in the world."

© Copyright Leeds 2016