Such injustices “occur in every province, including those on the border with China where soldiers are less bossy than elsewhere. People have been moved to tears by Kim’s death for a variety of reasons, with the pangs of hunger coming first. Now everyone wants to know what will happen in Pyongyang. I think things will get worse.”
Meanwhile, the power struggle to legitimise the heir is picking up. Kim Jong-un, in fact, is preparing his first public act, a speech to the nation on 1 January to present the guidelines for 2012. Political analysts warn it will be a key moment in order to see whether he will back the military or the party.
“The heir’s power is closely linked to that of the military commissions of the party and the Defence Ministry,” said Kim Yeon-soo, who teaches at the Korea national Defense University in Seoul. “The generals in charge were loyal to the father and the grandfather, but do not trust him because he is too young. In order to impose himself, he must either replace them or win them over. If he goes for the first option, he could set off a coup.”
According to the scholar, “the existing North Korean regime has no specific ideology. It is based on a reward system, money or ‘political gifts’, the dictator handed out to his loyalists. This is why Kim Jong-un will try to buy off those who hold the real power. Of course, those who are being bought off might think they can do without him.”
In the meantime, China appears to be backing the third Kim, dubbed the “great successor” in the Chinese press.
President Hu Jintao went to Beijing’s embassy district, where he met North Korea’s ambassador to express his condolences for Kim Jong-il’s death. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao followed a bit later.