Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Hermit Kingdom

Kim Jong-un, the heir-apparent and son of Kim Jong-il, issued his first military order just before the announcement of his father's death this week, which some sources claim is the proof of young Kim's control over the military. 

Photo by AP


The North's state media reported Kim Jong-il's death Monday, two days after it occurred.  Before the the news of passing was announced, Kim Jong-un ordered all military units to stop field exercises and training and return to their bases.

"This is a direct example showing Kim Jong-un's complete control over the military," the source said, adding the move also indicated that the younger Kim is poised to become the top commander of the North's 1.1 million-strong military.

And so on... 

Above paragraphs are based on newest Korea Times articles about prospective difficulties of Kim Jung Un to seize power. Literally everyone around the world expects it. 

If I was to guess and make a bet, I bet there won't be bigger problem with power transfer than it usually is in any hereditary system with several wings of power. Normally parents of the heir have to buy loyalty of those who could try to destroy their plans. If the loyalty cannot be bought with priviledges, then opponents have to be removed anyhow else. 

Such game is ahead of Kim Jung Un. My bet is there is already a dynasty of Kims in an Hermit Kingdom. 

If nothing surprising happens this will just go on. Unless there is a military coup d'etat and the military modernizes country. But I would not bet on it.

And what do you think?

Monday, 19 December 2011

Kim Jong-Il Dies- what comes next

Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on December 17th  while travelling on the train. For two days, North Korea rulers kept this information secret from the state news agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade. Today, the news of the death of Dear Leader went around the whole world and made global breaking news.


Apart from the usual diplomatic messages expressing grief towards North Korea, the White House responded immediately to a message declaring that it is ready to support South Korea against potential changes in the situation on the Korean peninsula. President of South Korea raised the threat level of a cyber attack to Grade 3, the highest. South Korean authorities may, in fact, fear of attacks on their networks and servers, because this year several of them happened. The most serious attack occurred in July 2011, when hackers paralyzed SK Communications, a South Korean telecom company. The North korea was accused of attack which Pyeongyang never acknowledged.
Lee Myeong-bak also contacted the White House indicating his readiness to take all necessary steps required in that situation.

the financial markets reacted immediately to the death of Kim Jong-il. South Korea's Kospi index initially fell by 4.1 percent, but then regained a bit of loss and early morning, the decrease was 3.1 percent. Japanese Nikkei has lost 1 percent. and reached 8,314.44 points. According to Victor Cha from Center of Strategic and International Studies this is a reaction similar to the stock market declines in 1994 after the death of former North Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung.

Global speculations began about the transfer of power in North Korea. Some analysts expect turbulence and potential conflict between several wings of power in North Korea, including a military coup. Director of the Institute of International Relations, Yonsei University, Professor Lee Chung-Min claims we do not yet know all the answers to many questions. Seizure of power by Kim Jung-Un who was promoted to be the next leader by deceased Kim Jong-il depends on whether he will cope with the hardline generals who are willing to use the situation to take over strings in Pyeongyang. Before Kim Jung-Un will be able to implement any of his own ideas in North Korean politics he has to consolidate power and convince the reluctant ones.

South Koreans, who are closest to all events, react calmly. There is no widespread panic, no one collects goods in case of crisis. As I wrote earlier crisis in relations with North Korea occurs so often that South Koreans are accustomed to it., even if it is the death of the leader of North Korea. Lee Yong Jun, a young engineer from Suwon says it's too early to predict what will happen - It can lead to conflict for power, as hardliners are able to use a young age of Kim Jung-Un against him. But any discussion and figuring out is in my opinion, premature. None of the analysts really knows what will happen and their panic can only reflect on our wallets more than the potential movements of North Korea. - Yong Jun highlights.

This confirms the reaction of the Ministry of Defence, which remains calm and says that there is no compelling reason to raise the DEFCON alert of South Korean armed forces. Anti North Korean surveillance alert had also not been raised. South Korean President Lee Myeong-bak canceled all his meetings and called up an extraordinary summit designed to establish rules of conduct in the situation, however pressing the need for reason and calm. 

Ironically we can guess whether this was a good or not good gift for President Lee-Myeong-bak's birthday which is exactly today. Photo: REUTERS

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Park Geun-hye used again?

"Park's role will likely begin and end as a kind of shield against cold drafts for the nominee review committee," the adviser from the Park wing predicted 2 days ago. 

Recently I had written that in future conservative figures compromised with old system of kinship, connections and silver spoon will less likely be choosen in the elections as the profile of voters and their values change.

In October mayoral elections in Seoul began a star of an independent politician who had no previous connections to any political party involved in traditional Korean politics. It may be one reason why GNP decided to reach for a legend of Park Chung-hee and allowed his daughter to come forefront and lead Hannara once again in her career. But another reason may be that Park Geun-hye if unbounded with any difficult responsibilities just before the presidential elections might focus all her resources on winning and becoming the Korea's next president.. Now one false step may be used against her both by the opposition and her own conservative collegues.

But Park Geun-hye is still unknown card in a tile. It is difficult to predict what she shall do as a leader, more than just doing PR in which she is perfect (see the previeus article on Park Geun-hye). She seems to have her own visions on looking for middle way in foreign affairs and domestic politics. But her chances for applying radical social reforms whiloe representing conservatives are rather slim, with that she would be better trying her chances with the socialist opposition.

Yet, the opposition does not want her. Her own pack may not want to listen. Possibly again she will be used as a shield and PR machine, not much more.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Talmud in Korea

Korea is by far the only country in the world outside of Israel, where Talmud is among mandatory textbooks for kids in school.
One person who laid a vital foundation to friendly connections between Korea and Israel is a Polish Jew saved from Holocaust who now lives in Israel and is a professor of Korean Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

photo by:

Dr Jaakow Cohen was rewarded for his lifetime efforts with the highest recognition in Korean science- Order of Magnolia - which he received from the president of South Korea, Lee Myeong-bak on December 7th.

Now Talmud called in Korean 탈무드 is appreciated by Korean parents as a great way to develop critical thinking. It also promotes value of education and family ties, both very important in korea.

On the sidenote: author of this blog - me - had personally met a very serious Korean who is a PhD in physics from Oxford University, and claims as seriously as he is himself, that Koreans are the lost tribe of Israel.

Funny as it sounds, miracles happen. Such claims can be easily confirmed by genetics, and they sometimes are. There are native Africans, whose skin is undoubtedly black, who are genetically Jewish, and this was confirmed by chance during genographic project. So...