Patt Morrison for December 19, 2011

North Korea after Kim Jong Il

North Korean Flag Flies At Half Mast Following Death of Kim Jong Il

Feng Li/Getty Images

A North Korean woman cries as she arrives at the North Korea embassy to mourn the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on December 19, 2011 in Beijing, China.

Although the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong Il, is dead, no one knows exactly how North Korea and the world will ultimately be impacted by his passing.

Many citizens in that country are reportedly mourning the loss of a leader they revered and respected, while others on the outside are unsympathetic or even pleased he is gone. Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, is being called the “Great Successor” by his allies and is predicted to take his father’s place, but some experts have said it is too soon to make such a conclusion. Kim Jong Un is young and inexperienced (estimated to be in his late twenties) and some fear the void created by his father’s death will instigate dangerous political instability in North Korea that could amplify tension between the two Koreas and in the region. The future of the country’s nuclear weapons programs has also come into question as the country establishes new leadership. The world watches to see who will gain control in a country shrouded in secrecy.


How will Kim Jong Il be remembered? Is the world and North Korea more or less safe without him? What actions, if any, should international powers take in light of the transitions taking place in North Korea?


Gordon Chang, author, "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World"; columnist,

NamHee Lee, associate professor, Modern Korean History UCLA

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