After Kim Jong-il, What's Next for North Korea?

Monday, December 19, 2011

South Korean newspapers carry front-page stories of Kim Jong-Un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, in Seoul on October 1, 2010. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Within hours of announcing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il's death on Sunday, the country's ruling Workers' Party released a statement saying North Korea would unite Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Not much is known about Kim Jong-un, who was named his father's heir apparent last year. He is believed to be in his late twenties, and apparently went to boarding school in Switzerland. Whether the younger Kim will be able to maintain control of his country and stick to his father's brand of hard-line Communism remains to be seen. The older Kim left North Korea's economy in shambles, and thousands of people are believed to be starving.

Few Westerners know as much about North Korea as Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief Barbara Demick. She's the author of "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea." She discusses Kim Jong-il's legacy, what could be next for the isolated nuclear power, and what to expect from Kim Jong-un. Former State Department official P.J. Crowley also weighs in.

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