Another day and another Kim in North Korea. Even though they can't grow food there in great quantities it appears there will never be a shortage of these pudgy little clones who are going to run things just like the last one did.
The latest is named Kim Jong Un. He is the third of the Kim dynasty that dates back to the post world war two partition of the peninsula. It would seem that the North Korean version of communism is best led by what amounts to a royal family. Of course communism everywhere has always been long on rhetoric about the people and short on actually doing something for them. However no where has that disparity been more evident than in North Korea.
Kim Il Sung, the eternal leader, who began the Korean war by invading the south, then was bailed out by the Chinese army, fashioned his Korea into a insular, paranoid state. He knew three things that apply to dictatorships everywhere, no matter what their label. First, pound it into each person's head day in and day out that some outside force is threatening the lives of every man, woman and child in the country. Second, blame everything, including the latest famine and economic collapse, on that outside force. Third, keep the military fat and happy.
His son, the lovable, Kim Jong Il learned these lessons well and took them to the final degree when he started up the North's nuclear program in earnest. Not only was there the possibility of blackmailing the south and Japan, but also who knows what kind of monster profit could be made from selling a couple of thermonuclear bombs to someone with both a marvelous cash reserve and a grudge.
Despite a questionable health history when Jong Il croaked the other day the US and others were taken by surprise. The ascent of his youngest son to throne, however wasn't. Last year Jong Un, who is thought to be twenty-seven was named a four star general in the North Korean army. He had already made a diplomatic trip to China, probably to introduce himself to the in crowd in Beijing.
The youngest Kim is thought to have been educated in Switzerland under an assumed name. He is believed to have learned both English and German there and developed quite the taste for basketball and James Bond movies. It is said he is also a big fan of Michael Jordan.
Well who isn't?
The problem is no one is sure of any of this and no one knows exactly what this kid thinks. And make no mistake, any twenty-seven year old, despite running the second largest military in all of Asia and an aggressive nuclear weapons program, is a kid. All you have to do is reflect about yourself at that age. Look for him to keep the military well oiled and happy, no matter what it costs his civilian population. The civilian population isn't going to show up at his door with a tank, or pop a cap in the back of his head.
Will he do something rash, like invade the south? One would hope not, but quite simply, we don't know. He is an enigma at this point and he is in charge. We can only hope he learned a little about how the rest of the world works if that really was him in Switzerland.
The world turns, but as things change they stay the same. One last rumor about his character is this: Kim Jong Un has a ruthless streak.
Why isn't that a surprise? After all, you don't get to inherit dad's business unless you think like him and he knows it.