Beyond the World news headlines
N.Korean succession leads to occupation…of the U.S.
There may be no bigger question mark hanging over North Korea these days than who will succeed the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, who has ruled with an iron fist since taking over when his dad, the “Great Leader”, died in 1994. Kim is 68 years old and believed to have suffered a stroke in August 2008.
His economy is in a shambles. Food is becoming more scarce. Trade links with the rest of the world are nearly non-existent. And tension on the Korean peninsula is at its highest in decades after the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul blames on the Stalinist North.
Experts say Kim is grooming his third son, Kim Jong-un, to eventually take the reins. Not much is known about Jong-un, including even the exact year of his birth. He is spectacularly untested, raising a list of questions as long as Pyongyang’s Juche Tower is tall. Will the ruling elite accept him? Will the impoverished masses believe in him? A smooth transition is certainly possible, but disorder is possibly equally likely. In this article long-time North Korea watcher Aidan Foster-Carter tells us to fasten our seatbelts as the succession drama unfolds.
OK, so how’s this for a bone-jarring scenario: Kim Jong-il dies suddenly in 2012 and Jong-un takes over. The youngster surprises everyone. He unites the Korean peninsula under the North Korean flag by 2015. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy falters; gasoline prices surge to near $20 a gallon. The United States reduces its military presence in Asia. Then the unified Korea goes on the move. First, it annexes Japan as U.S. economic might continues to erode. Then Southeast Asia. Finally, the Greater Korean Republic launches a satellite that frys the U.S. power grid with a massive electromagnetic pulse and then occupies America.
Far fetched, to be sure. But that North Korean succession-to-occupation scenario is the backdrop for the shooter game “Homefront” (check out the trailer), which video game maker THQ Inc plans to release later this year. (THQ, by the way, calls it “a terrifyingly plausible near-future world”.) The company was set to preview the game at its booth at Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles earlier this week.
“Homefront” might not be among the most anticipated game releases this year, but it’s got to get points for giving a whole new meaning to the concept of profiting from political risk.
(Tip of the hat to gamer and former Reuters reporter Scott Hillis for the link.)
Photo credit: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton (seated L) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il (seated R) pose for a picture in Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korean official news agency KCNA August 4, 2009. Clinton made a surprise visit to North Korea on Tuesday to try to win the release of two jailed American journalists, and met the country’s reclusive leader Kim. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY) QUALITY FROM SOURCE.