Kim Jong-il is dead, or at least has been dead for a while, with the generals waiting until everyone was safely ensconced in his or her work unit this morning to announce his death.
Jong-il has died too early to complete the installation of his son as his rightful and suitable heir. The 2012 year of prosperity was to be the saddle of the transition, where Jong-il would hand off the reins to his third son Jong-un.
However much the progaganda department calls on the citizens of the Workers' Paradise to rally around Jong-un (E), the young man has none of the terrifying record of oft-deadly nuttiness that made Jong-il immediately legitimate in the DPRK's world of surreal institutionalized social violence. Recall that before taking over for his father, Jong-il had:
- signed off on the attempt to assassinate the South Korean cabinet. The bombing in Rangoon, Burma killed seventeen South Korean officials, including four cabinet ministers.
- ordered the bombing of KAL Flight 858 in order to disrupt the 1988 Seoul Olympics
- supervised the kidnapping of Japanese citizens for the purpose of teaching DPRK spies Japanese language and customs
- had South Korean film director Shin San-ok and his actress wife kidnapped in order to improve North Korea's film industry
Kim Jong-un, aside from growing his hair in the style of his revered grandfather Kim Il-sung, likely does not have what it takes to survive inside the North Korean system, despite the rumors that he was in some way in charge of the shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. Even a man as bloodthirsty, ruthless and capricious as his father Jong-il needed three years to solidify his rule after the death of his father Il-sung, and this after having been in charge of the daily business of the government for more than a decade.
I would not count on the Young Leader's lasting long. The DPRK system rewards ambition, an ability to keep one's intentions hidden and utter heartlessness. Jong-un is a pup surrounded by wolves. Whether or not he stays in power depends on how firmly the other, older members of his family inspire loyalty and/or fear in the armed forces and the secret services.