What does Kim Jong-il's death mean for world?

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Kim Jong-un.

A name that will be a shudder for the world, or just same of the old nonsense from North Korea.

A nuclear power, North Korea has spent its past butting heads with the rest of the world. Now, with the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, this untested new world leader will have to face the powerful ruling elite in order to keep his position as the third generation leader.

It is unknown if he will retain power after his father’s funeral, which he has been named as heading the committee overseeing it, or if the ruling elite and the hardened military leadership will usurp – overtly or subversively – his role.

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After his 2008 stroke, Kim Jong-il did all he could to cement his son’s leadership role. And it appears to have worked, at least for now. The Workers Party, the ruling Communist party in North Korea, sent out a statement that the country would be “united under the leadership of our comrade Kim Jong-un.”

But that means nothing from a country who repeatedly threatened the world with nuclear war and proliferation after backing away from such positions. In a November of 2011 interviewwith Gen. Thurmond, the new commander of forces in the Korean peninsula, stated that North Korea was “uncooperative” and had “nuclear weapons” and a demonstrated capability to deploy them. He also pointed out that the treaty signed in 1953 was a separation of armies and NOT a peace treaty. “We’ve got to be prepared to defeat a formidable enemy,” if necessary.

On Kim Jong-un, Thurmond said he “causes us concern, due to his unpredictability.” Gen. Thurmond also pointed out the potential for instability in the area due to several factors: possible change in leadership in the U.S., Russia, China, the elections in the Republic of Korea and the 100 anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the first leader in the current “dynasty” and is still revered as a god.

Response from the GOP candidates is one of hope for Korea’s future, by means of a strong US and world leadership which must take advantage of the death of a “ruthless tyrant” (Mitt Romney), a “vicious dictator” (Rick Perry) and a ‘conscienceless tyrant” (Jon Huntsman). The response from the Obama Administration has been mostly quiet, except for a curt statement by the White house Press Secretary Jay Carney. The brief reads: “We are closely monitoring reports that Kim Jong Il is dead. The President has been notified, and we are in close touch with our allies in South Korea and Japan. We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies.”

The future for the Korean peninsula, and the world, will now – for the time being – will be in the hands of an unknown, untested, twenty-something dynastic inheritor who has a nuclear arsenal at his disposal.

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