In North Korea, streams of mourners are paying their last respects to the country's longtime leader who died over the weekend. In the three days since Kim Jong Il's death, little has emerged about what's next in North Korea other than a state funeral has been set for next week.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 3:10 pm
North Korea has yet to formally name its new leader, and it may take a while before it does. But there's a clear favorite. Kim Jong Un was anointed back in 2009 to succeed his father, Kim Jong Il, the country's longtime leader, whose death was announced on Monday.
If Kim does follow his father and grandfather as ruler of the secretive nation, he will face huge challenges. He's not yet 30 years old, and yet would be running a society that inherently favors leaders seen as experienced and wise, rather than young and untested.
The changing of the guard in North Korea poses clear risks for the United States.
Kim Jong Il's son, Kim Jong Un, looks to be the likely successor. But he's still in his 20s and has had little time to prepare to take over the country. Analysts say that because he's weak, he won't be in any position to get back to nuclear disarmament talks and make concessions.
Kim Jong Un may also be tempted to take provocative actions to establish his leadership credentials, and the Obama administration has to take all this into account as it decides on next steps.