North Korean Menace

July 5, 2011 • Volume 5, Issue 13
Can the repressive regime survive?
By Robert Kiener


North Korean heir apparent, applauds during a military parade in Pyongyang (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Kim Jong Un (R), the North Korean heir apparent, applauds during a military parade in Pyongyang on Oct. 10, 2010. His ailing father — current leader Kim Jong Il (L) — is preparing for his youngest son to succeed him. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 19, 2017  North Korea Showdown
Jul. 05, 2011  North Korean Menace
Apr. 11, 2003  North Korean Crisis
May 19, 2000  Future of Korea
Aug. 12, 1977  Relations with South Korea
Apr. 24, 1968  Divided Korea
Jan. 27, 1960  Korea: Problem Protectorate
Aug. 24, 1951  Rehabilitation of Korea
Nov. 01, 1945  Freedom for Korea
Conflicts in Asia
Global Issues