Cartoon: By Pickering.
There is neither cause for regret at the death of the North Korean dictator, the world is a better place without him, nor is there cause for celebration. This event is not likely to free the population of that sorry state, or improve their lot, nor even set in train a better future. The future is very much an unknown factor, probably revolving around planned successor Kim Jong Un, who may get the nod but will possibly be a puppet for the military.
The ‘welcome’ news of the success of the Arab Spring turned to dismay since as the rise of the Islamists with their plans for theocratic rule snuffed out any hope of real democratic reforms. In a similar way, the departure of Kim Jong Il is possibly the precursor for even more tyranny.
It is not certain that ‘Brilliant Comrade’ will succeed ‘Dear Leader’ as there is conjecture that he is viewed as too inexperienced to do so at this point, but given that he has received a western education in Switzerland, were he to be the successor he may be an improvement on his insular antecedents. There is some reason to doubt how much he can achieve though.
His father adopted the principle of putting the military first, with the result that much of the able bodied younger population that in normal nations does the heavy lifting in the workforce has been diverted to that area. To pay for this has required the rest of the nation other than the privileged power structure being thoroughly looted to pay for this. This in turn has lead to famines that the press euphemistically refers to as “a series of bad harvests.”
The problem for whoever succeeds Kim Jong Il is that the military is now all-powerful and are not likely to be in any hurry to surrender that privileged position. What’s more they are in the position of strength, which ensures that they do not have to do so. Reliance on troops for popular support is a one-way street with no way back, especially when the country becomes impoverished as result.