The New York Times reports on life within the Hermit Kingdom:
A six-day visit to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, that ended last Tuesday offered carefully monitored glimpses of a land where reality and fantasy are routinely conflated. While there were no obvious signs of impending collapse or political intrigue swirling around the fate of North Korea’s ailing leader, the visit offered hints of why the North might be particularly eager now to resume international aid and trade.
For nearly four years, an unrelenting barrage of government propaganda has promised that North Korea will be strong and prosperous by 2012, the centennial of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder and the father of the current leader, Kim Jong-il.
That is now 18 months away. And prosperous is the last word one would use to describe North Korea’s shuttered factories, skimpy harvests and stunted children.
And in the Stars and Stripes, one analyst predicts that Kim Jong-Il – believed to be ailing after a stroke two years ago – needs to hold on for at least five more years to prevent catastrophic collapse of the state:
The younger Kim is believed to be approximately 27 years old and was named a general and introduced to the public this fall — a clear sign, experts say, that he has been designated the third Kim to lead the country.
In contrast, Kim Jong Il had two decades to prepare for leadership before his father died.
“If Kim Jong Il dies within the next five years, the chances are 50-50 that Kim Jong Un won’t be able to hold that country together, simply because he doesn’t have that power base,” said Bruce Bechtol, author of “Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security” and an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University.
So now we have to root for the bad guy. What a world.