Departure of North Korea's "Dear Leader": Implications on North Korea and Its Neighbours
Evan Ramstad, Wall Street Journal | Pauline Loong, CIMB Securities Hong Kong
On December 19th, North Korean state media reported that its 69-year-old leader Kim Jong Il, who rose to power in 1994, died from a heart attack during a train ride on Saturday. Evan Ramstad, Korean correspondent at the Wall Street Journal, says it is not unusual that Kim's death was announced so late, as his father's death in 1994 was also formerly made known in similar fashion.
Political observers and analysts are doubtful whether Kim's son, Jong Eun -- who was appointed to succeed him last year -- will have what it takes to run North Korea. Ramstad says that given Jong Eun's lack of experience, it is likely that his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, Jong Il's brother-in-law and close aide, could act as a regent to the young leader. Jong Eun is believed to be in his late twenties.
Pauline Loong, policy risk analyst at CIMB Securities Hong Kong, also speaks to BFM on the implications of Kim Jong Il's death for China. She believes that China will continue to invest more heavily into North Korea, to preserve stability in the midst of uncertainty.
In the following interview, Ramstad and Loong also talk about the impact of Kim Jong Il's death on North Korea, its nuclear programme as well as the potential intensifying of human trafficking activity from North Korea into China.