North Korea is one of the world's last family-run communist dictatorships. As 2012 approaches — the year North Korea has vowed to become a “powerful and prosperous” nation — the regime's ailing leader, Kim Jong Il, appears determined to extend his family's tight grip on power by anointing his son, Kim Jong Un, as the next leader. Recently, the government — with 1 million troops and a growing nuclear-weapons program — has conducted provocative military actions against South Korea. But the country hasn't been able to feed itself for decades, depending on charitable organizations and other nations — mainly China — for food donations. The reclusive regime severely restricts contact with the outside world and freedom of thought, conscience and expression. It runs 14 prison camps where public executions and torture are common. Given the country's mercurial leaders and its determination to continue developing nuclear weapons, many see it as one of the most dangerous threats — to the South, the region and the rest of the world.