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No tears for Kim Jong Il

Dec 19, 20112 mins
Data and Information Security

World reaction to Kim Jong Il’s death is pretty guarded, with foreign policy experts clearly worried about instability on the divided Korean peninsula. But we should be celebrating, too.

First, the raw news from The Associated Press:

Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic longtime leader, has died of heart failure. He was 69.

In a “special broadcast” Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a “great mental and physical strain” on Dec. 17 during a “high intensity field inspection.” It said an autopsy was done on Dec. 18 and “fully confirmed” the diagnosis.

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media. The communist country’s “Dear Leader” – reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine – was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

I can understand why diplomats are using cautious language. Nobody knows anything about North Korea’s apparent new leader, Kim Jong Un.

CNN captured the uncertainty this way:

The younger Kim remains a mystery. Even his age is uncertain to most of the outside world; Kim Jong Un is believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s.

The first formal mention of his name in official state communications came just over a year ago, in October 2010, when he was promoted to the rank of four-star general just before a rare meeting of the country’s ruling party.

Kim Jong Un is said to have a fondness for James Bond and basketball star Michael Jordan.

He is believed to have studied in Switzerland and is thought to have English, German and possibly French language skills.

Nobody likes an unknown.

But nobody liked the last leader, who we all knew pretty well. He starved his people and kept them enslaved. He violated one agreement after the next concerning North Korea’s nuclear program. He was the CEO of a nuclear Kmart, a threat to everyone.

Be cautious about North Korea’s new leader.

But don’t forget to take a moment to thank God for the demise of another evil dictator.

–Bill Brenner

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