The passing of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il sent global stock markets tumbling for obvious reason – untested young son Kim Jong Un taking over from a country with a nuclear program and 1.2-million strong military, not to mention its history invasion into South Korea. While United States, South Korea and Japan are watching with great interest the transition powers, scenes of 11-day mourning period in the capital Pyongyang was dramatic ever since Monday’s announcement of Kim Jong Il’s death.
Well, if the death of Kim Jong Il creates red alerts to some countries particularly South Korea, they’ve nothing to fear, if the movement of North Korea military was any indicator. Kim Jong Un successfully issued a command to his troops to cancel field training and returned to their barracks, an indication the 29-year-old son of Kim Jong Il was in control of the huge 1,200,000 strong military.
Before the senior Kim dies, he unveiled his youngest son as heir last year and gave him two powerful military titles: four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. Hence, it’s a matter of time before Kim Jong Un assumes two top jobs his father held: general secretary of the party and chairman of the National Defence Commission. Nevertheless the less influence young Kim may have to share power with his uncle, Jang Song-taek, 65, and the military, at least for the time being until he consolidates his power. There won’t be any coup simply because the China would not allow it to happen.
The last thing that United States would like to see is another conflict in North Korea considering that there’re heavy speculations Obama administration may start yet another war soon against Iran. Logically, United States wouldn’t start two wars at the same time. On the contrary, Kim Jong Un may be less hostile towards western ideas and may bring liberal policies to the country. As a child, the junior Kim actually visited Tokyo Disneyland using a false identity (Brazilian passport) and stayed in Japan for 11 days and by the time the Japanese security agents began tracking his whereabouts, he was already gone.
In spite of communism, Kim Jong Il actually attempted economic reforms aimed at making the country a stronger and prosperous nation. Mobile phone system was introduced by Egypt’s Orascom with 900,000 subscribers already. The country also has internet connected to its citizens with computers and a landline although their version of internet is disconnected from the worldwide web.
There’re also casinos operated by foreign investors in North Korea. Hong Kong Billionaire Albert Yeung is one example of foreigner investing gambling, hotels and financial services in the communist country. Besides Albery Yeung’s Emperor Group (HKG: Emperor, stock-code 0717) which has been runing the five-star Emperor Hotel & Casino at the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Korea since 1999, casino magnate Stanley Ho also has his presence through his Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau S.A. in Pyongyang since 1998.
The death of Kim Jong Il also revives reunification prospect between communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea. However based on opinion poll by Seoul National University recently, it showed that only 53.7% of respondents saw reunification as necessary, down from 59.1% in 2010. It’s not that difficult to understand why most South Korea doesn’t really fancy a united Korea – it’s the staggering costs that the South Korea has to burden.
It was estimated the cost of integrating the two countries could cost up to 249 trillion won (US$215 billion) considering North Korea’s per capita income was merely about 5% of that in the wealthy South. Many young South Koreans are reluctant to repeat what West Germany did when it rejoined with the East in 1990. For the time being, nobody knows what will become of the next North Korea. Only junior Kim Jong Un knows if he has plans to transform the North Korea into a capitalist-like South Korea or China, unification or not. Till then, let’s enjoy the photo showing the difference between North and South Korea, courtesy of The Morning Post.
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