Information leaking out of North Korea in recent days portrays the nation in a state of siege, and its leader, Kim Jong-il, all but vanished from public view.
"The loss of this woman was a blow, but John Kerry's loss in the U.S. election was a harder one. These are now very worried men."
In a report filed from Beijing in the Sunday Times
over the weekend, Michael Sheridan reports that Kim's seclusion followed the death, from cancer, of Koh Young-hee, his favorite consort and mother to his heir apparent.
One recent indication of Kim's official absence was the fact that he did not even sign North Korea's official message of condolence to the Palestinians, following the death last week of Yasser Arafat. That duty was left to Kim Yong-nam, head of the Supreme People's Assembly
Diplomats in Pyongyang have noted that some of the North Korean members of their embassy staff have been reassigned, and those remaining have become even more uneasy than is the norm about discussing current affairs. Tighter restrictions have been imposed on the movements of foreigners, and the secret police have assumed control of the mobile phone service.
Some of Sheridan's sources see the security clampdown as caused by the outcome of the U.S. election. The DPRK regime is said to view the victory of George W. Bush with alarm, inasmuch as they see the re-elected administration as determined to break their will and disarm them of nuclear weapons.
"The loss of this woman was a blow," a foreign diplomat is quoted as saying, "but John Kerry's loss in the U.S. election was a harder one. These are now very worried men."
Today's edition of Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily reports that Russian political and intelligence sources have informed Global Information System about the removal, in just the past few days, of large portraits of Kim Jong-Il from key public areas. Their sources did not attribute the changes in security procedures to the defeat of John Kerry, or to the death of Kohn Young-Hee, but instead believed the clampdown to be the result of an acute leadership crisis.
Global Information System concludes that the death or removal of Kim Jong-Il could have a profound effect along several geopolitical fronts. First, a change in leadership could disrupt the strategic alliance between the DPRK and Iran, an alliance that has resulted in both states pursuing an aggressive game of brinksmanship by the rapid development of their respective nuclear programs. Second, GIS sees a potential impact on the support by the DPRK, through their facilities in Myanmar, for South Asian terrorist and insurgency movements. "Of principal concern in this regard," claims the special report, "would be the impact such a change would have on support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in Sri Lanka, as well as on DPRK support for some non-Muslim Indian separatists." Finally, a regime change would have a probable impact on North Korea's weapons sales to Syria, Sudan, Libya and others.
Labels: Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily, DPRK, Kim Jong-il, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, North Korea, Pyongyang, Sri Lanka