Last night the North Korean media announced that Kim Jong-Il died at the age of 69. The government is reporting that he died Saturday night. The cause of death was a heart ailment while he was under “great mental and physical stress”. More information is forthcoming. In reaction to the news of Kim’s death, the Yonhop News Agency reported that South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday placed all military units on emergency alert. This is also said to include an increase in monitoring of activity across the boarder.
Jong took over as the head of the Korean Worker’s Party when his father Kim Il-Sung passed away. Kim led the Korean people through the most trying times they’ve faced since the imperialist invasion of the US and others in the Korean War. The dismantling of the Soviet Union meant the loss of the Democratic Republic of Korea’s most important ally and trading partner. The economy was devastated by this loss. By comparison, imagine the US losing China as a trading partner over night. It was the economic and political leadership of Kim Jong-Il that pulled the country through that tough time and allowed them to recover.
During his time, North East Asia faced one of the worst famines in modern history. China managed this time quite easily. They simply ordered more rice from Vietnam to make up the short fall in failing crops. South Korea receive an immense amount of aid from the United States. North Korea on the other hand had to contend with a major shortfall in trade and economic sanctions placed upon them by the United States. It was Kim’s (and reportedly the DPRK’s finance minister as well) leadership and planning that devised the rationing system that made sure as few people had to die as possible.
It was Kim Jong-Il who created a new revolutionary ideology Son’gon that allowed North Korea to maintain its interests and maintain it’s right to self-determination despite decades of economic sanctions, unending slanderous lies and constant threats of nuclear war against them. It was Kim and many high ranking minsters who, following the people’s will, insisted upon the development of nuclear technology and nuclear power. All of this in the face of Western aggression. Like North Korea or not, they were the masters of their own fate, and answered to no one.
In the wake of the North Korean leader’s death, the South Korean media has been speculating as to who will be taking over as the head of the government. Some have speculated that a power vacuum has formed in his absence.
“Now South Korea urgently needs to think of who in North Korea it has to deal with. South Korea doesn’t want any instability in North Korea so will probably work to expand it cooperation efforts.”
– Yang Moo-jin, Professor, University of North Korean studies
Such talk of “power vacuums” and uncertainty surrounding future leadership seems strange. It has been touted now for some time by both North Korean media and Western media that his youngest son Kim Jong-Un is set to replace him. In fact Jong-Un already holds a full general’s rank in the military , prompting the nickname “young general”. Other have speculate that due to Jong-Un’s young age of 27, a coalition of government, military and Worker’s Party members will help him lead the country until a time when they feel he can lead on his own. I feel this is the most likely scenario.
High military alerts at this time is completely understandable. No doubt the North Korean military forces have been put on alert as well. Its not unimaginable that South Korea and the US will strike with the young new leader still vulnerable with inexperience and dealing with his father’s death. Imperialist nations all around the world are at this moment wringing their hands with psychotic glee at the possibilities of a down fall of the socialist government. No such luck, I believe that the imperialist powers will find Kim Jong-Un unwilling to bend.