The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has raised serious concerns over the future of the country and stability in the Korean peninsula. His son Kim Jong-un is now expected to take over the helm of the nuclear-armed Communist country, one of the most closed-off societies in the world. While some experts believe the country might see some reform in the period after Kim, others see little hope for change, especially in the ongoing effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Will Kim Jong-il's twenty-seven-year-old son assume power in a smooth transition or is a destabilizing succession struggle ahead for reclusive North Korea? CFR's Scott Snyder says the next few weeks will provide crucial signals.
Kim Jong-il's death has prompted discussion about the future of the isolated country and its nuclear weapons program. Experts cited in this CFR Backgrounder believe a post-Kim regime in North Korea would remain a tough nuclear negotiator.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's visit to Washington is likely to see passage of the Free Trade Agreement and coordination on strategies for pushing North Korea toward denuclearization, says CFR's Scott Snyder.
Following U.S. envoy Robert King's visit to North Korea to assess the food situation in the country, CFR's Adjunct Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder says that any U.S. decision to provide food aid to the country should be accompanied by steps to minimize moral hazard.
Even if a U.S. assessment of North Korea's food situation echoes a UN report earlier this year that warned of shortages, debate rages about whether new food aid should be provided to a recalcitrant Pyongyang.
As former president Jimmy Carter visits Pyongyang, any movement on resumption of stalled talks on North Korea's denuclearization is unlikely, says CFR fellow Sue Terry. Washington should continue to deter Pyongyang's aggressive behavior using sanctions and working with regional allies, she says.
The latest inter-Korean talks were shadowed by North Korea's failure to apologize for the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island shelling. This raises questions about renewed diplomacy on the North's nuclear program, says CFR's Scott Snyder.
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