The sudden death of Kim Jong Il drew international attention to North Korea and his successor, Kim Jong Eun. The world is curious to see if Kim Jong Eun can get over the extreme economic crisis and international isolation caused by nuclear development; whether he can get through the latest political instability and power vacuum formed by Kim Jong Il’s death; and if Kim Jong Eun decides to aim for reform and opening policies and so on. There have been myriad predictions and assumptions.
However, it did not take long for Kim Jong Eun’s true nature to be revealed. Kim Jong Eun has shown that he succeeded entirely due to his father’s background and heritage of governing and power. He has conducted all kinds of idolization events for his father in order to justify his succession. He escalated punishment against those who attempted to cross the border to seek food and freedom. He has consistently focused on idolization and a reign of terror.
Meanwhile, the international community was slow to criticize the North Korean authorities since Kim Jong Eun appeared because they were optimistically anticipating some different policies from him. However, before long the world was disappointed with Kim Jong Eun. He has concentrated on the military exactly the same as Kim Jong Il did while not caring about people’s lives. Despite international concerns, on April 13, the North’s authorities launched the Gwangmyungsung 3. South Korean military experts estimate that the total cost for the launch of a long-range missile like the Gwangmyungsung 3 is approximately 850 million dollars, equal to about 2.5 million tons of Chinese corn. According to the amount of food distribution in North Korea, that much corn can feed 19 million people for a year.
North Korean authorities have brought international isolation upon themselves through the missile launch. Event China criticized the North’s military action.
These kinds of moves after Kim Jong Eun’s emergence allow us to predict the future of North Korea. As he has been doing since Kim Jong Il’s death, he will probably continue to focus on the military rather than economy while conducting idolization events throughout upcoming years.
He does not seem to have any interest in reform and opening policy in order to solve his economic problems. He has instigated military provocations instead of attempting to ameliorate international relationships.
At the Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference on March 11, he became the First Secretary of the Party, which is practically the highest commander of the country. This is exactly what Kim Jong Il did: Kim Jong Il had Kim Il Sung made the eternal president (suryeong) while he remained as the Chief Secretary. And now, Kim Jong Eun has Kim Jong Il the eternal Chief Secretary while he indicated himself as the First Secretary.
Even though Kim Jong Eun has become the highest commander of North Korea, his authority still seems unstable. This is because he cannot adequately deal with reform and opening policy, which is the only way for North Korea to get through the current deadlocked situation. He does not even have the ability to handle the outcomes of such reform and opening policies, which is precisely the same dilemma his father had.