fredag 17. desember 2021

The pandemic forced Kim Jong Un into retreat. The world should brace for his resurgence

Ten years ago, the world watched as a young Kim Jong Un solemnly walked beside his father's hearse on a snowy morning in Pyongyang as distraught North Koreans wailed in grief. Kim's long black coat and hairstyle, reminiscent of his late grandfather Kim Il Sung, were viewed as a superficial effort to emulate the authority of his forebears.

But the 20-something heir to the North Korean leadership quickly grew into the role, and Korea watchers who were once skeptical of his rule now expect him to remain in power indefinitely -- assuming his health holds. It's a marked change from the early days, when Joseph Yun, former US special representative for North Korea, remembers Kim as an object of ridicule. "For a while, there was so much negative caricature of Kim Jong Un in South Korea and in China, almost making fun of him. It was very difficult for the international public -- South Korea and America -- to take him seriously," he recalled.

That view quickly changed as the young Kim displayed a ruthlessness and decisiveness that belied his age.