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article imageOp-Ed: The Kim Family Cycle

By Paul Iddon     Feb 13, 2013 in Politics
Why recent developments in North Korea make it evident that Kim Jong-un is following the same general cycle his father did following his ascension to power in 1994.
The North Korean state is often referred to as the hermit kingdom given its palpable isolation from the rest of the world. It's an oppressive totalitarian state, the most totalitarian in the world, that is completely closed off from the rest of the world and ruled over by a heredity family regime. In recent weeks we have heard troubling reports which indicate some families in the impoverished state have even resorted to eating their own children. This has followed the transpiration of what appears to be another famine in the making which has already claimed the lives of up to 10,000 Koreans. Nevertheless the present rather pudgy looking leader doesn't look like he is denying himself much as of late.
North Koreans have starved in swaths of hundreds-of-thousands before while the regime devoted most of the state resources and capital to building missiles and nuclear technology -- which have in the past been exported to countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Gaddafi's Libya. So this is certainly nothing new. It is just a reaffirmation of the cruel, cynical and oppressive nature of the Kim family rule in Pyongyang.
When Kim il-Sung died in 1994 the North Korean state essentially fell into economic ruin and eventually famine. Throughout the course of Kim il-Sung's rule the tiny hermit kingdom was subsidized by the Soviet state and the North Korean people were able to eek out tenable existences for themselves. However that came to an end after collapse of the USSR and the end of that unions generous subsidies. By the mid-1990's Great Leader had passed on and his son Kim Jong-il, the 'Dear Leader', would in essence become the next dictator of the hermit kingdom. His father encased in his mausoleum would however remain the symbolic Head of State -- which he still, technically, is to this day.
Kim Jong-il would go on to preside over a nation that suffered the dire effects of a devastating famine. The North Korean people were told that their suffering was a result of the siege the United States was leveling against them. Their leader, who diverted most of the states resources to military spending, was portrayed as working in earnest to combat and ward off the proverbial storm which symbolized western aggression in the states propaganda. Hundreds-of-thousands perished in famine conditions as the North Korean state developed missiles and nuclear bombs.
When Kim Jong-il passed away in December of 2011 we saw a similar transpiration of events. The North Korean people publicly showed their despair at the fact their leader had passed away. As was the case following the death of Kim il-Sung in 1994 their tears seemed authentic. The pudgy and inexperienced looking 30-year-old Kim Jong-un took over as head of state and has since in a manner reminiscent of his father before him justified high-spending on military as a means of deterring the hostile west. His recent detonation of a nuclear bomb confirmed that this is the party line in North Korea as this latest nuclear detonation was declared by the state media as being a “self-defensive measure” taken as a result of “continued hostility” on the part of the United States.
This process attests to the same course of action this crime family in Pyongyang took in 1994 as the states economy collapsed and it is a cycle they seem to be repeating under the current incumbent Kim. Tests of banned missile technology and nuclear weaponry with the inevitable goal probably being, as many analysts have already speculated following this latest test of a lighter nuclear device with a greater explosive force, the construction of a small nuclear device that could be fitted into a missile. That would be the ultimate deterrent for the Kim family as it will give it the power to unleash horrendous destruction upon cities of regional countries. It could also spur on an arms race with Japan, something that we should be very wary of given the recent comments made by that country's conservative Prime Minister.
With such nuclear abilities the Kim Jong-un will not only be able to terrorize the people of the region by flexing his nuclear muscles, he will also ensure his dynasties power is unchallenged. We don't know how many people in North Korea at present are hungry, how many will starve to death in the coming years and the extent to which the drought has caused irreparable damage to that country's agricultural sector. The more we're hearing about the deplorable manner in which dissidents are snuffed out and sent to die in concentration camps in the most excruciatingly painful and slow ways humanly possible is also a sign of the dire things we're likely to see and hear about down the road.
All the international community can feasibly do is dispatch food aid packages and try and reach compromises and deals on the limitations of nuclear tests in turn for food. This is how the Kim family have been blackmailing world powers for nearly 20 years. This cycle will likely continue for many years to come. It will see to a great burden being dropped onto the proverbial shoulders of North Korean citizenry and will in the long-term have destabilizing affects on the wider region.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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