They are not the only ones crying

(Source: De Pers, original article in Dutch)

What is going to happen after the death of Kim Jong-il? Korea expert Remco Breuker from the University of Leiden answers four questions.

Q What does the death of the “Great Leader” mean for the ordinary North Koreans?

A They fear that prices are going up even more. The prices for rice have soared during the recent months. Especially the poor have suffered from this. People can barely pay their rice. There is a great gap of wealth in North Korea. The rich are having a good life and the poor have very little money. Then there is inflation. Life is hard in North Korea except for the elite.

Q Are the tears that we see on TV real?

A They are partly exaggerated. But the emotion is still true to some extent. The North Koreans have lost their Kim. After all, he was the leader who made it possible for such a small country to stand up against the major world powers. He has managed to keep the enemy out.

Q Will his death lead to a North Korean spring?

A I do not know where such a movement should come from. All the resistance against the regime comes from outside. All dissidents have fled North Korea. Besides, foreign powers do not benefit  from the fall of the regime. Japan, China, the United States and South Korea are looking for a slightly more open policy. The North Korean government has become a lot more flexible in recent years. Last year, for example, 130,000 South Koreans have been on a business trip to North Korea. That was unthinkable ten years ago.

Q Will the Army accept his son as his successor?

A The position of Kim Jong-un is not so bad. He has worked hard to establish himself as the country’s young leader. It’s still uncertain whether the army would accept the young Kim. It’s possible that someone else will take his place. The Army controls the real power anyway and is behind the political scenes. I can imagine that they prefer to continue their influences in the old way.

Follow the url to read how China scrambles for clues after Kim’s death:


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