Hereditary succession under close scrutiny of elite US policy makers
Written and Photographed by Nile Bowie
Sombre scenes of hysterical crowds mourning the recent death of Kim Jong il before Pyongyang’s immense paintings and concrete monuments have triggered mass speculation regarding the countries future leadership and political climate. Outside the borders of North Korea, Asian financial markets immediately dived due to fears of regional instability. Uncertainty personifies the regime and the legitimacy of its successor, amid concerns of an internal power struggle between senior political and military officials.
Inside the countries borders, however, an eleven-day mourning period to honor the fallen leader has begun. The KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) has reported that the 27-year-old Kim Jong Un will be the official successor of his father, rousing the first glimpses into his official mythobiography intended to inspire his people. The KCNA has further reported, "All the party members, servicepersons and people should remain loyal to the guidance of respected Kim Jong Un and firmly protect and further cement the single-minded unity of the party, the army and the people.”
North Korea remains the world’s most isolated and enigmatic state, characterized by its hereditary secessionism and immeasurable personality cult. The countries unwavering resilience through famine and economic stagnation have forced Washington policy makers to reassess their original assumptions of regime collapse following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the death of North Korea’s Eternal President, Kim il Sung in 1994. Still, the revolutionary forces working towards the vision of Korean Socialism solider on, with exceptionally persistent unanimity.
On the other side of the world, the policy makers in Washington have long targeted Korean Socialism for evisceration, not without exploiting the threat of war on the Korean peninsula, in a bid to sell enormous quantities of military technology to the government of South Korea, as well as securing a pretext to maintain a vastly unpopular military presence in Japan and South Korea.
As other countries deemed incompliant to the interests of the ‘International Community’ (essentially consisting of the financial oligarchy of England, France and the United States) crumble under military intervention and foreign-funded “people’s revolutions”, the existence of North Korea will surely have no place in the touted vision of “America’s Pacific Century”. A report issued in 2009 by The Council on Foreign Relations, a prominent think-tank instrumental in authoring US foreign policy, has shed light on the advisable American response to the fluctuating climate of Pyongyang.
The document, ostensibly titled "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea” attempts to foresee three future scenarios in a post-Kim political climate: a smooth transition under a managed succession, leaving the current ideological infrastructure intact; a contested succession, in which government officials attempt to usurp power and a failed succession, where the new leadership cannot foster it’s legitimacy, triggering a chaos induced collapse.
For anyone who has visited Pyongyang and researched the inner Korean ideological structure, it becomes apparent that the CFR and various American policy makers, who have uniformly pressured the North to denuclearize, have very little understanding of the world view behind the system they wish to dismantle. The CFR Report calls for using 115,000 to 230,000 foreign soldiers to “maintain stability and security” and to assist in “locating and securing Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction” in a collapsed post-regime North Korea.
The CFR document has also highlighted the need to manage legal issues relating to the formation of a compliant transitional government and the forced implementation of market liberalization and privatization to encourage the emergence of a private sector. In an ultimate show of solipsistic condescension, the CFR alludes to the ‘possibility’ of including the North Korea authorities in their transformation of North Korea, page 41 of the document reads, “Institutional change would be much faster and simpler if developed with former North Korean authorities in a framework that might lead to eventual reunification.”
Of course, the very idea of the US Government implementing this CFR-authored foreign policy is not only completely negligent to the American people and their interests, but it is also aptly ridiculous in the fiercely sovereign Korean context. The mere suggestion that their firmly indoctrinated populace would not only accept such measures, but also be complicit in them, is profoundly naive on the part of the CFR. With regards to foreign troops policing North Koreans and the armed reaction it most certainly would provoke, the CFR suggests substantially increasing it’s occupation forces to 460,000 troops, a number more than three times the amount of American troops in Iraq.
|The 2009 CFR document titled, "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea” suggests sending 115,000 to 460,000 foreign soldiers into a post-regime North Korea to maintain security. North Korea maintains a 1.2 million-person army with four million reserve soldiers, nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. Considering Korea’s long history of abuse under foreign occupation, it is totally unfeasible for the fiercely sovereign North Korean populace to comply with foreign troops ‘maintaining security’ within their borders.|
In the event of a failed succession, there are certainly less abrupt ways to diffuse conflict in a post-regime North Korea. In any case, the result of the current succession of Kim Jong Un into the reigns of leadership will be highly debated in the outside world. North Korea is the world’s only communist nation to uphold a system of hereditary succession, partially due to its history of extreme Confucianism, maintained in Korea for hundreds of years prior to the Korean War, which spilt the country.
During that historic period of male-centric Confucian repressiveness, extreme limitations on expression and women’s rights were enforced and the elder male authority figures within royal dynasties and individual families were never questioned. Respect towards the elderly remains a cornerstone of Korean culture, so it is certainly curious that a 27-year-old will usurp a phenomenal position of power in the hyper-traditional North Korea, while presiding over seasoned military generals and government officials.
As wild debates ensue over the future administration in Pyongyang, it is likely that Kim Jong Un will not be a reformer, even if he were, it would not be politically viable to introduce reforms in the early stages of his leadership. As similar propaganda biographies of the “Great Successor” begin to surface, it appears that the system in Pyongyang is not ideologically shifting focus.
If any drastic reforms were to be eventually made, they would loosely follow the Chinese model in the fields of manufacturing, as North Korea would be an attractive destination for the world’s next sweatshop hub, boasting Asia’s lowest wages. The Korean leadership will almost certainly maintain the airtight policy of intellectual isolation, staunchly blocking all access to the Internet and loathed foreign pop cultural trends, which have taken root in South Korea, in a bid to preserve traditional Korean ethics and morality.
While the people of North Korea may continue to view the deceased Kim’s as pious deities, their support for Jong Un is unanimous. While many question the direct experience of Kim Jong Un and his qualifications to lead, many fail to realize that he will be surrounded by hardened senior officials, which will most certainly become trusted political advisors, potentially leading to the strengthening of their political roles and influence. At this stage, stability in the succession is foreseeable, absent a direct threat to North Korea’s existence.
Many question the sincerity of mourners seen hysterically crying on the post-Stalinistic streets of North Korea. Once you have visited Pyongyang and experienced the sincere and intimate praise the masses bestow towards the idols of their leadership, there is little questioning how this country weathered famine, war and isolation. Over sixty years of isolation and social engineering have produced a system where the devotion to Kim il Sung and Korean Socialism is absolutely genuine and completely unwavering. There is no other country of its kind.