Does Shared Power Loom in N. Korea?

Intelligence experts debate whether new arrangement only transitional
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2011 7:58 AM CST
Does Shared Power Loom in N. Korea?
In this image made from KRT television, Kim Jong Un grimaces in front of the body of his father and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. North Korea's anointed heir Kim Jong Un led a solemn procession of mourners Tuesday to...   (AP Photo/KRT)

After six-plus decades of the Kim family's ironclad dictatorship, North Korea's opaque leadership structure could be changing: Kim Jong Un is so young and untested that he will be forced to govern as part of a collective group, to include his uncle Jang Song-thaek and the military, reports Reuters. Granted, no one knows what's really going on in North Korea, and Reuters' information comes from an anonymous source, but one who been right about big North Korea moves in the past, including the 2006 nuclear test.

South Korea's intelligence service, on the other hand, thinks that leadership collective might just be transitional, and it will be led by the Workers' Party, reports Yonhap News. North Korea's military is controlled by the Workers' Party's Central Military Commission, of which Kim Jong Un is vice chairman. Kim may be poised to continue the family's legacy, "but that doesn’t mean that the current system will continue indefinitely," reports leading expert Andrei Lankov in Foreign Affairs. While Lankov doubts any serious challengers to Kim will emerge, even from the military, "the longer North Korea's rulers holds on to power, the greater the gap between Pyongyang and its neighbors will be—creating greater potential for future turmoil." (More North Korea stories.)

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