Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slim chances of real change in North Korea

In recent days, the North has been flooding the state media airwaves with video clips and reports lionizing Kim Jong Un, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party.

For South Korea, the best-case scenario would be a transition to enlightened leadership that would re-engage in talks for denuclearization and improving human rights, experts say. Kim Tae Young, South Korea's defense minister, says a "group leadership" could emerge composed of senior military leaders and Kim Jong Il's family members who will groom the younger Kim and serve as his regents.

Andrei Lankov, a Korea expert at Kookmin University, Seoul, says a succession to the son will change little. "Kim Jong Un will have no choice but to be a rubber-stamping dictator," Lankov says. "He will approve papers drafted by the same people who draft papers for his father right now."

Victor Cha, professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also isn't optimistic about North Korea 's stepping away from its roguish stance under a new regime.

It "is not a system that produces good leaders," Cha says. "There are lots of vested interest among the ruling elite and anyone trying to change that would be in big trouble."

[USA Today]

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