What comes next for North Korea?

Niels Bohr aptly said “prediction is very difficult, especially of the future.”
The main question now is what will happen next. As expected, state media named Kim Jung Il’s son, Kim Jong-un, as his successor.
I’ve read speculation that unrest or power struggles may follow. I predict not. My series on North Korea strategy concluded that its power structure relies on stability and loyalty. Not only does its top leader depend on it, the whole power structure does too.
I wouldn’t expect systemic change despite the opportunity. I don’t know details of who might stand to gain or lose, but I would expect all decision-makers to realize they have more to gain from maintaining things as they are to improving their personal situation. A power struggle could lead to someone else taking the role of leader, but that would only change the leader’s name, not the role or the system. The current system established that nobody with power gains from system change and nobody who would gain from system change has power.
North Korea has launched a few missiles. Doing so makes sense. The country is vulnerable during an unexpected transition. The leadership would want other countries to know acting against it would lead to repercussions and its missiles that could reach Seoul are its greatest defense against invasion.
Note that this New York Times piece, Kim’s Death Inspires Worries and Anxiety, mentions the word stability six times, representing the views of the governments of all the relevant foreign powers — the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. Whatever change may come, I don’t expect it from any overt government behavior. Given the vested interests to maintaining things as they are, change would have to come from outside the system.

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