Coronation Present

Ol' Pappy & Son (Reuters)

The Dear Leader is dead (and was buried today, in a “private,” no-outsiders Pyongyang mega-ceremony)! Long live the Great Successor! And after he returns from the mausoleum, just look at what news will be on top of his desk!

Experteneinschätzung: Nordkorea könnte bald eine Atomrakete haben


Welt Online

Atomrakete – yes! “Atom-rocket”! One that will be in North Korean hands, and thus under the “Great Successor’s” personal control, and rather soon!

Hey, that’s not nichts! It’s in fact the estimation of one Larry Niksch, long-time North Korea expert at the (US) Library of Congress, brought to us in an article from Die Welt, who in a recent paper set forth his view that the Pyongyang regime will be ready to mount its Nodong missiles with nuclear warheads within two years at the most, whereas most estimates up to now had foreseen at least five. Now, the Nodong is still but a middle-range ballistic missile – still out of reach of California, probably also Hawaii, but more than capable of hitting, say, Seoul or Tokyo. (Then again, mere North Korean artillery has always been able to devastate Seoul whenever the Great/Dear Leader/Successor felt like giving the order.)

A somewhat less dire prognosis is cited in this same piece from Siegried Hecker, who, despite what you might gather from his name, is former chief of America’s Los Alamos research laboratory. Hecker says that, before North Korea can go ahead confidently with anything very threatening (in the missile realm, you understand), it still has to have a third test-explosion, a successful one (there were doubts whether the first two were really that) to make sure that a nuclear device miniaturized so as to fit as a warhead will actually behave as ordered.

Two points here:

  1. He might style himself the “Great Successor,” but “king” or “emperor” might be more pertinent titles for Kim Jong Un, given his absolute control over every aspect of the lives of his subjects. Actually, let’s go with “emperor” – as in “new clothes,” for the silence here is truly deafening. Just look at the guy! Only in his late twenties, having been outside the country only to study among luxurious conditions at some Swiss school, yet now he’s supposed to be in charge of a country still at war with its southern neighbor (at least formally – although northerners have certainly acted like it numerous times in the past, even after 1953), with a moribund economy where people starve to death and everyone wants to escape to China – and with nuclear warheads and, soon, the means to deliver them! Where is the innocent little child to cry out “You’re in way over your head, Jack!” and so to break this spell of fantasy, so that people can once again call things what they are?
  2. This “Great Successor” was of course the “Dear Leader’s” son – his third it seems – and the mantle came the same way to the “Dear Leader” back in 1994 (although with seemingly much more opportunity to practice the job beforehand). Here we see again the amusing if wearying paradox where all-powerful rulers in what are putatively “republics” (here: “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”) decide that no one is better qualified to succeed them in the people’s service after their demise than . . . their direct progeny. Abrupt terminations to this sort of farce have been realized over this past year in several North African/Middle Eastern countries (with one or two more possibly to come), as Prof. Juan Cole points out in an excellent recent blogpost. But this phenomenon was also addressed at more depth in Francis Fukuyama’s excellent new book The Origins of Political Order: it’s the sort of primitive, tribal-based urge that truly mature, developed systems of government usually leave far behind as they progress to leadership based on true merit and authentic popular choice. Yet as advanced as any ruling regime may be, those sorts of blood-tie yearnings (i.e. to set up one’s children for life in cushy positions) never cease to be a threat to the political order, Fukuyama states, and the extent of their re-intrusion into the body politic mirrors the extent of that regime’s decay.

UPDATE: Well, I guess we need to note and fully appreciate any bit of good news emanating from that part of the world that we can:

BREAKING: Kim Jong-Un Rebrands North Korea as “N. Kiddy”


Andy Borowitz

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