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Nickdfresh
12-19-2011, 01:26 AM
5775N. Korea Signals Kim Succession as South Braces for Impact

Stuart Biggs, Sangwon Yoon and Eunkyung Seo, 2011 Bloomberg News

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- North Korea said its people and military back Kim Jong Un, the little-known third son of Kim Jong Il, as leader as uncertainty around the political succession on a peninsula where 1.7 million troops are stationed unsettled stock markets from Seoul to Hong Kong.

Kim Jong Il passed away from "great mental and physical strain" two days ago, the official Korean Central News Agency said today, bringing an end to a 17-year tenure in which North Korea built nuclear weapons while some 2 million of its people died from famine. State media called for citizens to "loyally follow" Jong Un, who is at the "forefront of the revolution."

"Kim's death happened at a very bad time for the North Korean regime," said Brian Myers, a professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea. "It has really not proceeded very quickly with the glorification of the heir-apparent, Kim Jong Un. An average North Korean is still in the dark about his upbringing, his biography, why he is uniquely well qualified to take over the country."

South Korea called in police officers for emergency duty, considered raising alert levels for the military and pledged steps by the central bank if needed to stabilize financial markets. The transition in the north adds to risks for Asia's fourth-largest economy, which is already contending with slowing export growth as Europe's debt crisis dents global demand.

Dollar, Stocks

The Kospi index of shares tumbled 3.4 percent as of 3:25 p.m. in Seoul, and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1.3 percent. South Korea's won sank 1.4 percent to 1,174.80 per dollar. The U.S. currency gained 0.3 percent to $1.3010 per euro and 0.2 percent to 77.94 yen.

During a state television broadcast monitored in Tokyo, the announcer wept as she read the news of Kim Jong Il's death. Footage was aired of thousands of people in the main square of the capital of Pyongyang chanting in unison and waving Kimjongilia, a flower named after the deceased leader. While official reports give Kim's age as 69, Russian records indicate he was born in Siberia in February 1941.

The late leader last year set in line his succession plan. Kim Jong Un, thought to be 28 or 29, was first mentioned in official KCNA dispatches on Sept. 28, 2010, when his appointments as general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the party were announced.

Right Side

Jong Un stood at his father's right side at a military parade the next month, wearing a black suit with a mandarin collar similar to the style worn by his grandfather, who founded the nation after World War II. The younger Kim, educated in Switzerland, also emulates Kim Il Sung's slicked-back hairstyle, rather than the bouffant favored by his father.

"It comes at a time when there was a slight indication North Korea was going through one of its good-boy phases," said Carlyle Thayer, a politics professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra, referring to signs of a North Korean pledge to suspend parts of its nuclear program. "I don't expect an outbreak of war, but it takes the positive trends that were beginning to emerge and perhaps puts them on hold."

North Korea for years has engaged in a strategy of brinkmanship with the U.S. and South Korea following the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended without a peace treaty. America became one of the nation's biggest aid donors as its negotiators forged periodic agreements with the North to suspend its nuclear armaments program.

Food Aid

The U.S. agreed on providing food aid to North Korea in recent talks held between the countries in Beijing, based on steps including a suspension of the North's uranium enrichment, South Korea's Yonhap News reported two days ago, citing diplomatic officials in Seoul it didn't identify.

The Obama administration resumed direct talks with Kim Jong Il's regime in October after increased sanctions had no effect in persuading it to abandon the nuclear program. The U.S. envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies told reporters in Tokyo last week further bilateral talks hinge on the totalitarian state changing its "provocative" behavior.

The U.S. is "closely monitoring" reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has died, the White House said in a statement in Washington. President Barack Obama has been notified and the administration is in "close touch" with allies South Korea and Japan, the statement said, citing the office of the press secretary. The U.S. remains "committed to stability on the Korean peninsula," the statement said.

Alert Level

All police officers in South Korea were called to work for emergency duty and commanders are discussing "a detailed course of action" in response to developments in the North, the National Police Agency said in a statement on its website today. The military is discussing whether to raise its "watchcon" monitoring to level two from level three, and its "defcon" combat alertness to three from four, an official at the defense ministry said on condition of anonymity.

South Korea's central bank will "closely monitor" any developments and will take steps to stabilize markets and seek international cooperation if needed, Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong Soo said at a meeting in Seoul today. The BOK said in a statement it will run a 24-hour market monitoring system.

Thomas Byrne, a senior vice president at Moody's Investors Service in Singapore, said in an interview that "we recognize that the collapse of the North Korean state or an outbreak of war pose an event risk for South Korea, which will have severe implications." He added "we consider that likelihood to be remote even under the current uncertain situation."

Coup Unlikely

Yang Moo Jin, a professor at University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, echoed Byrne's assessment.

"The possibility of a public uprising or military coup in North Korea seems low since the North has prepared for the succession for the past year," said Yang. "Kim Jong Un's complete takeover of the helm will not take place for awhile due to his young age and inexperienced leadership. The North will be under the control of a governing body, I expect, for about a year."

Tensions on the peninsula have risen since attacks last year that killed 50 South Koreans. North Korea shelled a South Korean island last November, killing four people. It has denied an international report blaming Kim's regime for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March 2010 that killed 46 sailors.

Reactor Program

North Korea last month said it was making progress in building a light-water atomic reactors and producing low- enriched uranium. The U.S., Japan and South Korea have all urged China, North Korea's biggest ally, to persuade it to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks that were abandoned in April 2009.

"Kim's death was one of the critical Black Swan risks on the Korean peninsula," said Kwon Young Sun, a Hong Kong-based economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. "The initial shock will be negative for South Korean markets. What's important is the policymakers' responses. The South Korean government probably has contingency plan and international cooperation with the U.S. and China is also very important."

Speco Co. led gains among defense-related companies in Seoul stock trading. A defense equipment manufacturer, it jumped by the daily limit 15 percent to 2,350 won. Victek Co., an electronic warfare equipment maker, and Huneed Technologies, a military communication equipment manufacturer, also rallied 15 percent.

The inexperience and youth of North Korea's heir-apparent Kim Jong Un "increase the likelihood of miscalculation" with South Korea and the U.S. and raises the potential risk of "provocations," General James Thurman, commander of the combined South Korea-U.S. forces, said in written answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June.

"Our primary concern is the potential for additional North Korean provocations, which is a tool of choice as part of its coercive diplomacy," Thurman, the top commander of the U.S. troops in South Korea, wrote.



--With assistance from Taejin Park, Saeromi Sim and Seyoon Kim in Seoul, Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok and Indira A.R. Lakshmanan in Washington. Editors: Chris Anstey, Brian Fowler

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at sbiggs3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Brinsley at jbrinsley@bloomberg.net

The San Francisco Chronicle (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/12/18/bloomberg_articlesLWFU5F0UQVI9.DTL)
2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

Rising Sun*
12-19-2011, 05:30 AM
Good.

But no reason to believe that whoever replaces him will be any better for the poor bastards who live under that crazy regime.

Iron Yeoman
12-20-2011, 08:29 AM
Seems that his 'Korea' is over.


Thanks, i'm here all week...

Firefly
12-23-2011, 07:01 AM
Good riddance to yet another Tyrant whos love of fine dining and fine living is paid for on the back of the starving masses who should think themselves lucky to be called North Korean.

Personally, I think if it werent for the Chinese then Korea would have re-unified by now.

pdf27
12-23-2011, 07:03 AM
Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi and Kim Jong Il in one year. Who says Team America is just a film?

Rising Sun*
12-23-2011, 07:51 AM
Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi and Kim Jong Il in one year. Who says Team America is just a film?

Team America got only one of them, being bin Laden after a ten year search.

Team America missed Gaddafi mid-eighties in bombing Libya. His own people got him.

Team America missed the opportunity to deal decisively with Korea about six decades ago, when Team America lost the first of its largely unbroken line of losses since in all the major conflicts it has foolishly embarked upon and lost for the same reasons it lost Korea: It doesn't fight those wars to win but only to pursue unclear and shifting political or economic aims while fighting with one hand tied behind its back. The one shining exception to those losses is Bush Senior's defeat of Iraq a couple of decades ago where he had the sense to do what was necessary to achieve the aim, being to defeat Iraq militarily, without getting involved in irrelevant feel-good, moral rationalising bullshit about nation building and winning hearts and minds and all the other nonsense that frustrated the engagements in Iraq II and Afghanistan, and Vietnam (unlike British efforts in the same direction in Malaya). This USMC major had a clear eyed view which, alas, was beyond the view of the politicians who need to justify their wars by balancing then with feel good bullshit: "The insurgent leader is a stallion standing on his hind legs. You don’t win his heart and mind. You kill him." http://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/marine-corps-quotes

Yet in Afghanistan the stallions are being paid by Team America to allow safe passage for Coalition vehicles. Which makes as much sense as supporting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which both export virulent and violent Islamism supported by Team America's dollars and politico-military support. Which ain't that different to Team America, and its collection of usual suspects including my country, supporting Saddam Hussein and sundry other despots contrary to our interests.

Also, Team America got bin Laden with one chopper inexplicably down on a raid where such things should have been impossible, rather like the poorly executed raid into Iran three decades ago to rescue American hostages. There's a world of difference between what Team America manages to pull off, pretty much by good luck when helicopters are involved, and the filmic hagiographic, hyperbolic versions.

Team America did a lot better when it didn't confuse the purpose of war, being to defeat the enemy regardless of cost to both sides as happened in WWII, than it has generally since WWII when it deludes itself that building a well in a village it has burned down or that the inhabitants fear it will burn down is going to convert them to the American Way instead of just being seen as invaders.

Then again, Team America, like my country which has been involved in many of these misadventures with America, hasn't been at war since 1945. It's amazing how many people can die and be injured and how much country can be laid waste when nobody is at war.

Meanwhile nobody has formally ended the war which wasn't a war with North Korea.