20-Dec-11 World View — Suspicions Arise Over the Cause of Kim Jong-Il's Death

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • North Korea’s president Kim Jong-il dies of heart failure
  • Death of Kim Jong-il raises questions on power succession
  • Suspicions arise over the cause of Kim Jong-il’s death
  • North Korea test fires two short-range missiles
  • Iraq’s government disintegrates as Sunni/Shia tensions grow
  • Syria’s Bashar al-Assad agrees to Arab League monitors
  • Strauss-Kahn’s wife is ‘Woman of the Year’ for standing by her man

North Korea’s president Kim Jong-il dies of heart failure


Widespread bawling was shown on N. Korean tv, but there were no actual tears (Yonhap)
Widespread bawling was shown on N. Korean tv, but there were no actual tears (Yonhap)

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) announced in a “special broadcast” on Monday that president Kim Jong-il died from “a severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack,” and “great mental and physical strain,” while taking a train to an unnamed location. His third son, Kim Jong-un, has been officially named his successor. According to KCNA,

“At the vanguard of the Korean revolution stands Kim Jong-un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of juche [self reliance] and the outstanding leader of our party, military and people. Kim Jong-un’s leadership will guarantee the completion of the revolutionary cause of justice through the generations after it was started by Kim Il-sung and led to victory by Kim Jong-il.”

It added that the entire nation “should faithfully follow comrade Kim Jong-un’s leadership and protect and bolster the unified front of the party, military and the public.” Korea Times

Death of Kim Jong-il raises questions on power succession

Analysts dithered on Monday over the question of whether the succession from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un will be quiet or chaotic. There are several concerns. First, North Korea is a starving nation, and the change of leadership may trigger social unrest that’s just seething below the surface, leading to millions of refugees. Second, there may be a succession battle, with an army coup supplanting Kim Jong-un’s leadership, or even a succession battle within Kim’s family. Third, Kim Jong-un may feel the need to prove himself by launching a provocative military action against South Korea, like last year’s sinking of a South Korean warship or shelling a South Korean island, risking all out war with the South. However, many analysts pointed out that North Korea is actually governed by the powerful National Defense Commission, and so there is continuity of government during the succession. Furthermore, Kim Jong-un has a mentor — Jang Song-thaek, the late Kim’s brother-in-law and vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, guiding the young leader to building his political base. Yonhap

Suspicions arise over the cause of Kim Jong-il’s death


Kim Jong-il left, Kim Jong-un

right, in October 2010 (Korea Times)


North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Monday that Kim died of a heart attack last Saturday on a train while heading to an unidentified destination. However, some analysts say that Kim’s actions in dismissing numerous military officers, especially those in their 50s, harbor deep resentment against both Kim and the next leader, Kim Jong-un. “As their vested interests were hurt due to Kim Jong-il, I would not rule out the possibility that some military officers, who believed their clout and influence had been damaged, could have played a role in his death,” said one analyst. Korea Times

North Korea test fires two short-range missiles

North Korea test-fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday. However, South Korean officials believe that the test firings were planned in advance and were not related to Kim Jong-il’s death. Yonhap

Iraq’s government disintegrates as Sunni/Shia tensions grow

The day after the last of the U.S. troops left Iraq, the country’s Shia-led government issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi, accusing him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials. Al-Hashemi apparently anticipated the move, going to the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan in the north, hoping that Kurdish authorities would not turn him in. This comes as two Sunni provinces have left the government, and expressed their desire to form their own autonomous government. As I reported yesterday, Iraq is replaying the same political turmoil that they experienced in the 1930s, during the country’s previous generational awakening era prior to the current one. AP

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad agrees to Arab League monitors

The Arab League’s latest threat — to turn the question of Syria’s violence over to the U.N. Security Council — has apparently motivated president Bashar al-Assad to agree on Monday to allow Arab League monitors into the country. On the same day, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly adopted, by a vote of 133 to 11 with 43 abstentions, to adopt a human rights committee resolution that “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the persecution and killing of protesters and human rights defenders.” However, opposition leaders said that al-Assad’s Monday announcement offered little new. The plan in question, first proposed last month, would have the Syrian government withdraw its troops from the country’s cities, release political prisoners, hold talks with opposition groups and let in monitors from Arab League. Al-Assad is now accepting the proposal, but opponents say that his acceptance is a delaying tactic, before he launches his next wave of violence. Jerusalem Post

Strauss-Kahn’s wife is ‘Woman of the Year’ for standing by her man


Anne Sinclair, 'Woman of the Year' (AFP)
Anne Sinclair, ‘Woman of the Year’ (AFP)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife Anne Sinclair, who stood by the former IMF chief during his sex scandal, was named Woman of the Year in a poll for a French woman’s magazine on Monday. Among 10 female personalities, the new IMF chief Christine Lagarde came in second, and the Socialist party candidate for president, Martine Aubry, came in third. Next came French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Eva Joly, the Green Party presidential candidate who came seventh said, “I find this sad — it represents concepts of life and male-female relations that are very, very outdated, blah, blah, blah.” Meanwhile, Dominique Strauss-Kahn returned to public life on Monday with a speech to an economic forum in Beijing, China, where he said, “The euro is a raft on the verge of sinking.” AFP and Telegraph

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