With Kim Jong Il conspicuously out of the public eye in recent months, some speculate that his death could shatter the North Korean government and precipitate humanitarian and possibly military crises. But the reality of succession, Philip Bowring writes in the International Herald Tribune, is likely to be far more orderly, and to unfold much more slowly.
Both the Communist Party and the army are disciplined organizations, and power struggles are likely to occur behind closed doors, not in open warfare. “Events are unpredictable,” he writes, “yet it is a reasonable assumption that a post-Kim North Korea is unlikely to move fast on economic or political reform, let alone reunification. But it also unlikely to be any worse than it is now.”