Kim’s alive!

After the countless photos that no-one could say were real, and the hilarious ‘portraits’, we now have an at-least-probably-true report that Kim Jong-Il is not incapacitated. He met with a Chinese envoy recently. This at least tilts the balance in favour of “he’s recovering and reasserting control” camp of NK watchers.

This doesn’t change the fact though that the man is obviously fragile. The furious rumour-mongering on successors will continue. This latter though is beside the point. Kim himself ruthlessly built a power base long before his father died. Any nominated successor will not have that. Look for it to be a Hua Guofeng moment.

I’m still placing money (but not too much) on Kim’s death generating one of the defining foreign policy moments in Obama’s first term. I don’t know the nature of US planning for that contingency, but the low priority of Asia right now is discouraging.

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