Will North Korea Collapse? (Part Two)

December 19th, 2011

By Dan Miller

The situation in North Korea remains cloudy but some information has become available. (Also read Dan Miller’s PJ Media article from November titled “Will North Korea Collapse?“)

North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is dead at the age of sixty-nine. The spin by the North Korean media is that he died of a heart attack caused by overwork: “He worked day and night for socialist construction and happiness of people, for the union of country and modernisations. He left us so suddenly.”

Here is a video from the North Korean media of assembled denizens of Pyongyang, some in tight military-like formations, lamenting his death. Residence in that city, the capital, is carefully limited to those deemed faithful to the regime. Luxuries unavailable elsewhere are provided there.

An e-mail alert sent by STRATFOR on December 19 states that Kim died on

the morning of Dec. 17, according to an official North Korean News broadcast at noon Dec. 19. Initial reports say Kim died of a heart attack brought on by fatigue while on board a train. Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, and his health has been in question since.

He may have died shortly before the 17; official reports from the North are not usually very candid.  In any event, the apparent two-day delay in the official death announcement — from the morning of December 17 until noon on December 19 — may be significant. If for nothing else, time was needed to ensure stability. Now, the country has essentially shut down:

Following the official announcement of Kim Jong Il’s death today, North Korea has imposed rigid social controls, including the complete closure of markets.

An inside source told Daily NK this lunchtime, “The jangmadang is closed and people are not allowed to go outside. Local Party secretaries are issuing special commands through local Union of Democratic Women unit chairwomen, and the chairwomen have been gathered at district offices for emergency meetings.”

According to the source, National Security Agency and People’s Safety Ministry agents have been deployed in streets and alleyways to control civilian movements. There have not been any signs of public unrest to date.

Kim Jong Il’s sudden death has apparently caught people off-guard, the source revealed, commenting, “Nobody had the slightest idea about the General’s death even right before they saw the broadcast. You can hear the sound of wailing outside.”

North Korea has also “urged an increase in its ‘military capability’ as the death of North Korea’s enigmatic leader Kim Jong Il spurred fresh security concerns in the tense region.” On the same days as Kim’s death was announced, North Korea test-fired two short-range missiles off its eastern coast. There has been little additional information from the provinces as to what else may be happening there in response to Kim’s death.

In South Korea,

President Lee Myung-bak canceled the rest of his Monday schedule and put all members of South Korea’s military on “emergency alert,” his office said. The two nations never signed a peace treaty following the Korean War of the early 1950s, leaving the two nations technically at war.

After an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday, Lee asked South Koreans “to go about their lives.”

“For the sake of the future of the Republic of Korea, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is more important than anything else. It should not be threatened by what has happened,” he said.

The death of Kim Jong-il will significantly disrupt the recent United States-North Korean negotiations over food aid and the termination of its nuclear activities. It was reported on December 17 that between December 15 and 17 (Kim’s death on the morning of December 17th was probably not then known by the negotiators to have occurred), the U.S. and North Korea had resumed talks about food aid and there appeared to be an agreement to send 240,000 tons of food supplies in twelve monthly shipments of twenty tons each. The sides, the sources said, “reached the agreement based on North Korea’s pledge to implement initial measures of denuclearization that include a suspension of its uranium enrichment program.”

Continue reading this article at Pajamas Media »

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2 Responses to “Will North Korea Collapse? (Part Two)”

  1. Tom Carter |

    I agree with the view that things will develop slowly — assuming that no counter-Kim revolt/coup was in the planning, anticipating his death. As in almost all authoritarian regimes, the key to holding and exercising power rests with the military. There are many examples of military takeovers to provide a period of stability pending regime change, and I suppose it’s possible in NK, depending on how well the Kim family has planned for this. We’ll see.

    In any event, North Korea, Iran, and the anti-Israel violence in the Middle East are and will be for a long time tinderboxes that could ignite into all-out war on short notice. So, let’s go ahead and gut our military — who needs those nasty warmongers anyway?

  2. Dan Miller |

    So, let’s go ahead and gut our military — who needs those nasty warmongers anyway?

    Yep. That’s what we and most of our eventual allies in Europe did following WWI. In consequence, we were ill prepared to fight WWII and it became necessary to play a fast, furious and expensive game of catchup. At the beginning of the Korean Conflict in June of 1950, the same occurred. The word soon went out to “Call out the Marines!” There weren’t enough of them on active duty since the Corps had been slashed; there had been talk of eliminating the Marine Corps. Fortunately, there were reserves and they went into combat well prepared to fight. When they arrived in Pusan, they were in a high state of readiness. Their rifles were ready to use — they had already been zeroed and were not packed in cosmoline. More than a few members of the Marine Corps became Marine corpses; many of the Army boots became Army corpses.

    Why do we always think that the most recent war will be the last one? It has never in the history of the world been that way.

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