Earlier today, news of the death of the “dear leader”, Kim Jong-Il from a heart attack on a train; sent the world into a state of speculation over the leadership and stability of the region. This afternoon, the official news agency in Korea urged people to faithfully revere his son Kim Jong-un as the new leader. BusinessBecause member Samuel Hargadine gave his opinion on how any uncertainties over leadership might affect business dealings in the region. He also shared his views on the likelihood of a new leadership bringing on a more stable and open environment for businesses in the country.
In Samuel’s opinion, North Korea is unlikely to see a great deal of liberalization because it is a regime that bases its legitimacy on fear and a cult of personality- “To loosen that fear would put the regime at risk - especially at a time of transition”. He views China as a key external player in determining the trajectory North Korea will follow in future- “China is the key outside factor. Surely Beijing has been planning for this moment and has its own cards to play. As far as I see it, Beijing's interests are the same as Washington's and Brussels': maintaining security above all else and moving forward with a very gradual shift towards a Chinese model of development”.
Ultimately, the question of whether the regime will fall or liberalize is one we will have to uncover in time. Either way, Samuel feels that the death of one leader is unlikely to be the sole determining factor. Such changes will “unleash forces it will unlikely be able to control. I guess unpredictability is the ultimate welcome into the 21st century marketplace!”
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