At this moment China is tolerant of the Kim Jong Eun succession system and there are no discernible domestic obstacles standing in the young man’s way. However, considering all factors, the chances of the process being smoothly carried through to its conclusion are exceedingly slim, according to a prominent South Korean researcher.
Kim Young Hwan of Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet) says he believes there is less than a 10% chance of the succession system being smoothly established and only a 20-30% chance of it muddling through, whereas the possibility of a critical crisis is far higher at between 60% and 70%.
Kim, presenting his analysis in the 2010 winter edition of “Zeitgeist” explains, “Even Stalin or Mao Zedong, people who had enormous personal authority, did not attempt this practice. It is because they knew that their reputations as communists would hit the floor as soon as they attempted it. North Korea only talks about socialism, but lost the identity of a socialistic state long ago."
Kim says there are six very good reasons why Kim Jong Eun has a very limited chance of successfully assuming power.
Firstly, he points out, "The succession process to Kim Jong Eun is happening much too quickly given his age and experience", and this will lead to problems getting cadres to follow his orders.
He asserts, "The fast paced succession process will shake the existing order and rank of North Korean officials, which could cause resistance within a considerable demographic. Kim Jong Il is excessively dependent upon very old people, having lost the chance to change the highest figures over the last 10 years.”
As a result, he claims, “For Kim Jong Eun, who is young and untrained, it will be even harder to resolve complicated political problems."
Secondly, Kim says that while Kim Jong Il had major first-generation revolutionary heavyweights like Kim Il or Choi Hyun looking after him like a nephew, "Kim Jong Eun does not have anyone who can offer him sincere advice or help, so there is the possibility of small problems running out of control. He will likely be surrounded by people who will flatter him no matter what he does."
Thirdly, he explains, "Kim Jong Eun was raised in a foreign country and lived a life of complete isolation while in North Korea. Therefore, his bonds to those around him are very weak. He will not be able to seize the bureaucracy through fear and manipulated symbolism."
Fourth, Kim says that internally North Korea is contradictory system where an absolutist dynastic system and communism are promoted side-by-side, and this fundamental systemic inconsistency is spreading to those young people who distrust the succession system itself. In the long run even the loyalty of high officials toward the system will be weakened.
Fifth, he anticipates the possibility of conflict and distrust between Kim Jong Eun and Kim Jong Il themselves. “For Kim Jong Il, sharing authority with Kim Jong Eun during the succession process is inevitable. However, during that process, the young Kim Jong Eun is exceedingly highly likely to utilize his authority in a direction which Kim Jong Il will not appreciate,” Kim explains.
Sixth, Kim says it is impossible to exclude the possibility of an ambitious person existing within the current leadership. He anticipates, “There is the possibility where they will form amicable relationships and develop their strengths, then strike after the death of Kim Jong Il.”