North Korea’s dynasty enters third generation (Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times, Brisbane Times)

Dec.24,2011     An iron hand still rules North Korea’s hermit kingdom despite its ruler’s death, writes Hamish McDonald.

(In a wide-ranging article that reveals decades of experience as a North Korea watcher, Sydney Morning Herald’s Asia-Pacific Editor, Hamish McDonald explores the many aspects of North Korea’s dynastic succession. Among those interviewed is Helping Hands Korea’s director who is quoted, among other issues, on his interpretation of current tensions along the China-North Korea border and what the current ‘lockdown’ may suggest about conditions deep inside North Korea.)

”In the last year to 18 months the North Korean and the Chinese governments have been co-operating at a higher bureaucratic level to lock down the border, in anticipation of any developments like we have just seen with the sudden death of Kim Jong-il, to try to prevent any uncontrolled surge of people across the border,” says Tim Peters, of a group called Helping Hands Korea in Seoul. ”We’ve seen a build-up of border patrols on both sides, and on the Chinese side the non-human element, the cameras and the heat and motion sensors.”

The push factor of mass starvation in regions of North Korea and continuing harsh repression is worse than ever, said Peters and Chun. “Nothing is relaxed, we don’t see any reform going on, the economy is still moribund, agriculture is not improved, people are looking for the exit,” said Peters. “The lid is screwed tighter but the pressure in the cooker is building up.”

“But that’s very distinctly outside of Pyongyang,” Peters added. “There are two North Koreas. One is Pyongyang with the sobbing mourners, and outside in the villages and towns, there’s occasional pictures of them. These people haven’t received public distribution [of food] for a long time — very little mourning going on there.” Read more: