Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shrewd Kim Jong Il

For all the attention he is getting concerning the missile crisis, North Korea's Kim Jong Il is one of the most mysterious leaders in the world. The reclusive communist leader has been portrayed variously as an unstable nuclear-armed madman.

But despite his reputation as being very odd, some experts maintain Kim is quite rational.

"He's not crazy. He might be somewhat emotional. He might be somewhat eccentric. But crazy? Absolutely not," says Peter Maass from the New York Times magazine.

Indeed, Kim's persona seems to have been carefully cultivated to become a leader who has played a poor hand of cards skillfully. As supreme leader of an impoverished, backward country, he has little to bargain with on the international stage and his reputation may work to his advantage.

Indeed, behind it all he seems to be a shrewd dictator.

"Really, everybody who's met with Kim Jong Il, and there've been quite a few -- South Koreans, Americans, Russians, North Koreans who've since defected -- they all come out saying this man knows what he's doing," says Maass.

[Excerpt of an article by Zain Verjee, CNN]

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