Kim Jong-Il orders military to be ready for combat

One of the more substantial news stories that happened during my hiatus was the announcement that a North Korean missile may have been what sunk a South Korean battleship. Now, obviously, this is no little matter and stretches far beyond the Korean borders, what with the Chinese support of the north and the American support of the south.

Now comes the other shoe dropping: half-pint dictator Kim Jong-Il ordering the military to be combat-ready in response to the accusation.

The order was broadcast on May 20 by O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, according to the website of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a Seoul-based group run by defectors from the communist country. Yonhap News agency reported on the posting earlier today, sending the won lower by the most in more than a year and causing stocks to drop.

While Kim doesn’t want war, North Korea is ready to counter any attacks, O said in the message, according to the group, which cited an unidentified person in the country. The organization was among the first in South Korea to report on North Korea’s botched currency revaluation late last year.

Now, sure, this isn’t the first (and certainly won’t be the last) time that Kim has threatened anyone, but that doesn’t mean it should be shrugged off. One of these times, he’s going to haul off and do something crazy. Particularly the older he gets and the more dire the economic situation in his country becomes, the likelihood of a desperate act gets better and better.

Or maybe he’ll die first. Let’s hope, right?

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4 responses to “Kim Jong-Il orders military to be ready for combat

  1. No, we definitely don't want Kim to suddenly die. That could have disastrous consequences. It's generally accepted that there are two factions in the North. The hardliners, made up of a bunch of old-timers from Kim Il Sung's days, are wildly unpredictable and aren't afraid to launch a fullscale assault on the South. The other faction has sense enough to recognize that war is not an option. They can be belligerent with the saber rattling and brinksmanship, but they are predictable. Kim Jong Il is believed to belong to the latter.

    A few years back, there was some concern that the hardliners had gained power when Kim was ill. The North's behavior became more erratic than normal during that period. And since then there has been concern over what happens when Kim dies. His heir is not believed to have achieved the level of power and influence necessary to keep the hardliners at bay. And it's really not known which faction he favors, anyway. So most of the Koreans I speak to hope the elder Kim hangs on for a few more years.

    It's also believed that incidents like the sinking of the Cheonan occur independently of Kim's command. Rather, the hardliners in the military act on their own.

    I can't say this is the opinion of the average Korean, many of whom blame Kim Jong Il for the Cheonan incident. But it is the picture painted by the Koreans I am associated with, many of whom are corporate executives and low level government officials who have more than a passing interest in the situation.

  2. No, we definitely don't want Kim to suddenly die. That could have disastrous consequences. It's generally accepted that there are two factions in the North. The hardliners, made up of a bunch of old-timers from Kim Il Sung's days, are wildly unpredictable and aren't afraid to launch a fullscale assault on the South. The other faction has sense enough to recognize that war is not an option. They can be belligerent with the saber rattling and brinksmanship, but they are predictable. Kim Jong Il is believed to belong to the latter.

    A few years back, there was some concern that the hardliners had gained power when Kim was ill. The North's behavior became more erratic than normal during that period. And since then there has been concern over what happens when Kim dies. His heir is not believed to have achieved the level of power and influence necessary to keep the hardliners at bay. And it's really not known which faction he favors, anyway. So most of the Koreans I speak to hope the elder Kim hangs on for a few more years.

    It's also believed that incidents like the sinking of the Cheonan occur independently of Kim's command. Rather, the hardliners in the military act on their own.

    I can't say this is the opinion of the average Korean, many of whom blame Kim Jong Il for the Cheonan incident. But it is the picture painted by the Koreans I am associated with, many of whom are corporate executives and low level government officials who have more than a passing interest in the situation.

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