Monday, 9 December 2013

The Downfall of a Politician

It appears that Kim Jong-Un of North Korea has decided to imitate Prince Hamlet of Denmark in removing his uncle, Jang Sung-taek. The significance of this event can hardly be exaggerated, for this is relevant not just to the internal politics of North Korea, but to the region and wider world. 

Jang had often served as the bridge between North Korea and its Chinese ally, often visiting the latter country which the current leader of North Korea has yet to do. This made him often advocate for the positions China wanted for North Korea such as reforming the highly centralized economy, much as the former country did in the last generation. Thus to a certain extent the blatant ouster of Jang, to the point that his arrest was carried in the middle of a meeting and photographed for all the world to see indicates Kim Jong-Un intends to continue his assertion of independence from China. This desire has already been displayed this year through the North's nuclear tests, which the Chinese opposed and which led them to respond by supporting UN Security Council sanctions. 

When Kim Jong-Un first came to power almost two years ago, there was some hope that he would be a reformist who would begin to open up the "hermit country" to the wider world. Yet this was not to be: North Korea instead has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric by constantly threatening to renew the war against the South which ceased some sixty years ago. The increasing fraying of relations with China threatens to further increase the isolation and block off what was hitherto a moderating influence.

Thus the arrest of Jang has served to but  add tension to the region of East Asia already fraught by territorial disputes between China and Japan over the Senkakus. The United States must navigate this new situation carefully, promoting what good it can by continuing efforts to denuclearize North Korea but also be prepared to meet any sudden action by the North with strength. We cannot but hope that the removal of Jang does not signify anything worse. 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post, Casey. I, however, think that the removal of Jang and his subsequent execution may be a precursor to the downfall of Kim Jung Un. These events always precede mass revolutions, which we hope that North Korea will eventually have. Not only that, but China may stop giving support to Korea, or lessen their ties with the Communist country. Only Time will tell what will happen. Overall, This is an excellent post and keep up the good work.