Monday, October 20, 2008

Something Amiss In North Korea?

Probably nothing more than standard North Korean bluster.... or maybe not. Who knows. But North Korean embassies worldwide have been put on standby for some sort of announcement. This was the same thing North Korea did right before the announcement of the death of Kim il Sung in 1994. There has been speculation in recent weeks that Kim Jong Il was hospitalized due to a possible stroke. Some believe that Kim's health has taken a turn for the worse and there is some speculation that there may have been a coup d'etat.

The media has not bought the North Korean reports that Kim Jong Il is in good health. He has not been seen for months and has missed major State events. North Korean media released a photo op or video clip of Kim a few days ago, but it now turns out that the photos/videos were likely from old file footage. Kim reportedly attended a sporting event a week ago...but no photos were released.

Media reports indicate that there has been no unusual activity in the past day or two. U.S. intelligence says (publicly) that they believe that Kim Jong Il is still in control of the Country. Stranger still... there are new reports of an emergency cabinet meeting on the issue of the N. Korean economy... so with that as a backdrop to the other's hard to make out what is going on. I have some theories, but i'll just wait to see if there is anything to the "big announcement" claim.

Relations between the Koreas has grown Cold in recent weeks due to a new hardline South Korean Government. But at the same time North Korea has seemed eager to cooperate with the disarmament agreement negotiated with the U.S. earlier this year. This is a sign that North Korea really wants to transform its economy (for them, the sooner the better). Economic assistance was one of the carrots offered by the disarmament talks. One of the things North Korea needed to do to expand its economy was to have the U.S. remove it from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. The terror listing hindered financing and trade opportunities.

It is unclear who would take over in the case of Kim Jong Il's death. Kim has three sons who could possibly take over...but none of them seem to be ready, based on reports that I have read in the past year or two. A takeover by the Army could mean a more hardline government might be in the works. However, this doesn't square with North Koreas recent efforts to quickly dismantle its nuclear sites, and its eagerness to improve its economy by broadening its relationships around the World.

A "big announcement" is supposed to come at any time.

It's hard to tell when something really important is happening in North Korea because the Country is so isolated and they do things so often that are just meant to grab the Worlds attention.

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