South Korea put troops on alert and Asian stock markets fell –signs of fear that Kim Jong-il’s death could spark instability in North Korea and beyond. But most experts predict the handover of power to Kim Jong-un will bring few surprises. One expert says the regime will be stable but hunkered down as he shows filial piety by staying out of the limelight.
What’s the Big Idea?
“North Korea will be very inward looking for months, or even years,” says Peter Beck, a research fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations in Washington. And power remains concentrated in the military in North Korea. Nevertheless, China is especially keen that the maverick protégé does not get out of hand. Collapse and chaos would be a worst-case scenario”for Beijing.