Who is in charge of North Korea?

Concentration camps, starving populace, brutal authoritarian regime, and loose nukes; what could possibly go wrong with North Korea?

(TimeMag) — As odd and erratic as the North Koreans might be, they are not about to inaugurate new leadership by raining nuclear destruction on their Asian-Pacific neighbors – and they probably couldn’t do so even if they wanted. While North Korea has enough fuel for six or eight small nuclear weapons, it doesn’t have the technology to put them on missiles. Nor are its missiles particularly accurate beyond a short range.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough. But the littlest Kim, Jong-Il’s son Kim Jong-un, has only been groomed for autocracy for a year or two. It’s unclear how much support the 28 year-old really has among top military brass and the handful of wealthy patrons in the nation. It’s not even certain how old he is, estimates vary from 26 to 29. And I have to admit, I have a bad feeling about this whole deal.


  1. RW Ahrens says

    Since nobody really has an idea of how this regime works on the inside, it is just as likely that he’ll just be a figurehead. It is rare for true authoritarian power to cede from one generation of dictator to another without some form of overriding authority (such as feudalism) to back it up. More than likely the military is the true power (hence the son’s elevation to a military post in the rank of general), as well as to a Party position.

    It is handy for a regime whose true power brokers are the military to have a handy figurehead available, especially if they are part of a family whose head is the subject of a cult of personality. Easy to keep them under control, since the military guards the boss and can do away with him at the slightest sign of rebelliousness.

    Because this kid has been raised to be that figurehead, I’d say they’ve probably got an easy time of keeping him under control. Nothing like a human breeding program to provide a ready supply of biddable figureheads…

  2. noastronomer says

    RW Ahrens post does not alleviate my own bad feeling. The possibility of struggles amongst the various power blocs within the North Korean government still exists even if Kim Jong Un is just a figurehead.

    What happens when the head of the navy gets annoyed at perceived favoritism towards the head of the army? In a country where you’re either at the top or a slave. The generals know how the rest of the country live. If I were in their shoes I’d rather start a war than accept that life.

    As I said in the earlier post this is likely to play out over weeks or months. Maybe even a couple of years.

  3. StevoR says

    From what I’ve read/ heard seen incl. on wikipedia the answer is a ghost – quite literally – North Korea is ruled by Kim Il-Sung (Kim the bad singer?) the Eternal President :


    So a dead man still rules that horrible hellhole and has done even longer than we thought.

    (Remember those rumours that Kim Jong Il – now officially Kim Jong dead died long ago? Probably untrue but hey who knows!)

Leave a Reply