Following North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death, no one really knows what lies ahead for the relations between the U.S. and the Asian nation. That from U.W.-Madison political scientist Ed Friedman. He says two views include a status quo of tense foreign policy or “precisely when supreme leaders die, it’s possible to make big changes.”
One of the younger sons, Kim Jong Un, will succeed his late father. If the new ruler wants to make reforms within the police state, Friedman says it may be difficult. “It’s hard to see the son as being able to go against the military.”
China factors into the equation, as North Korea depends heavily on its neighbor to the north for food and fuel. Friedman says China gets irritated by “belligerent” actions by North Korea such as bombing South Korean properties; however China would not want a unified Korean peninsula with a democratic government allied with the U.S.
The new leader – believed to be in his late 20’s – continues a dynasty of communist rule running six decades.