North Korea

Kim Jong-il dies


Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea since July 1994 has died, reportedly of a heart attack on Saturday.

The Supreme Leader is likely to be replaced by his son Kim Jong-un, although a period of uncertainty lies ahead with a possible power struggle within the Communist party.

Some commentators are saying that the transition may lead to a period of ‘sabre rattling’ by the new regime in order to establish its position, whilst others suggest that they might reach out to the international community during this period of internal uncertainty.

Our best guess is that the son is too young to have built up a significant power base and that different factions will fight it out, possibly over the next two to three years. The internal struggles are likely to result in mixed messages coming from the new regime. Whatever happens the South Koreans are likely to commiserate with their northern neighbours whilst ensuring that their defences are secure.

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