Feature

Life after Kim Jong Il

What happens if the North Korean leader dies?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il didn’t show up for a military parade marking his nation’s 60th anniversary, said Britain’s The Independent in an editorial. U.S. intelligence suggests “he is seriously unwell, and may have had a stroke,” while a Japanese academic claims Kim’s been dead for five years. But whether he’s “well, ill, or even dead," North Korea is still a nuclear state run by “generals who are as unpredictable as they are isolated.”

Assuming reports of Kim’s “ill-health are not greatly exaggerated,” said Paul Maidment in Forbes.com, who’s next in line? There is no known “anointed heir apparent,” but if the “dictatorial dynasty” is to continue, the top bets are Kim’s eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, or one of two younger sons.

Knowing the list of possible successors isn’t “too helpful,” said Jules Crittenden in his Pajamas Media blog, if we want to understand whether the North Koreans will now “come over the DMZ, or pack it in and open up the gates, or just continue on with the wretched starvation, murder, torture, and brainwashing program.”

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