Don’t Count the KPA Out!
Andy Jackson highlights two contingencies the Brilliant Comrade, Kim Jong-un, needs to consider, the second of which involves sibling rivalry in the dim reaches of the Kim clan. But, I do have to point out a third prospect.
There are at least two points in the first few years after Kim Jong-il dies that could lead to instability.
The first is early on, before when various groups compete to be the power behind the throne. The various factions, including the military, party officials and members of the extended Kim clan attempt to flatter, cajol or force their way into the successor’s inner sanctum in a bid to become puppet masters to an isolated monarch. That would be especially tempting for female members of the Kim clan, more distant relatives or in-laws.
Such maneuvers may be especially tempting for Kim Seol-song, Kim Jong-il’s only daughter and a product of his only official marriage. By the accounts available, she is better suited for the top spot than any of her half-brothers but lacks the proper genitalia for the job. However, things can progress very quickly from the odd car crash to tanks in the street. That realization will likely mute the chances of one side openly attempting a coup.
The second period of potential instability is once one of the competing factions gains ascendancy or the successor secures a strong enough position that he can assert unilateral control over the system. Those on the inside in Pyongyang know that Kim Il-sung’s cult of personality only fully emerged afterhe had successively purged the “South Korean,” “Chinese guerrilla” and “Soviet” factions from the North Korean power structure. Fearing such a fate, any prominent faction finding itself losing its position may be tempted to “widen the loop” by launching a preemptive coup attempt.
I have to bring up the possibility of a coup. Ever since the 90s, when Ninth Corps took a messy stab at Pyongyang and got itself abolished for its failure, I’ve waited for another coup attempt. Perhaps, the Kim clan has bought loyalty sufficiently. I don’t believe the Korean People’s Army is scared. And, that’s where Seoul comes in. An alliance between the National Intelligence Services and a pro-unification North Korean corps commander would be a game-changer.
Still, I’d be impressed with a Korean ajumma wielding power in Pyongyang. Watch out, bro!
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Filed under: Korea, Military Tagged: dprk, kim jong il, kim jong un, north korea, rok