Is North Korea Falling Apart Under Kim Jong Un?

Kim Jong-Un, the "dear leader" of North Korea and the youngest dictator of modern times, is at an immense crossroads within his country. The country has arguably the worst human rights records, a massive cult of personality for the founders, and immense labor camps for those who defy the regime, yet there are reports of cracks within this Stalinist regime. Given this immense complication, will Kim Jong-Un lead the way to the future, or remain the status quo?

Although there is no official biography of the dictator, he is rumored to have gone to a boarding school in Switzerland, and unlike the majority of the isolated country, experienced new ideas and new points of view. You would think that the old guard of the regime would be against this type of exposure for their future leader, but given the few choices of succession for leadership of the country he emerged as the top candidate to dismay within the North Korean elite. He has two brothers, one who has one arrested for attempting to get into Disneyland Tokyo with a false passport, and has been critical of his family's regime at various points, and another brother who there is little known about. Perhaps the old guard of the regime realized that in order to keep up the cult of personality they would need to use one of these brothers despite the complications, and Kim Jung Un despite his outside exposure was the clear choice.

In the news recently, the public sacking of Kim Jong-un's uncle drew signs over the stability of leadership in the country, as his uncle was rumored to be second in command to the young dictator. In fact, rather than see a regime collapse around him, he was able to consolidate his power and purge any opposition in a Machiavellian fashion. Jang had his images removed from state-produced documentaries and articles, and was labeled as someone who "dreamed different dreams," showing his resistance toward the regime.

Knowing this, it would seem as though Kim Jong-un is even more power-hungry than his father was, but there is an important distinction. Kim Jong-un has focused more on economic development in the country than the shogun (military first) policy of the isolationist country. He undid much of what the old guard had desired by rolling back funding for militarism as hope has spread across the country and abroad. New consumer products and cell phones are now allowed in the country opening up the country, and while seeming like a small change on paper there shall be significant implications of this decision. Outside information brought down the regimes during The Arab Spring, something that may very well bring down this regime in the same right.

Perhaps the most prominent new project in the country is the new ski resort in the country, something that would have seemed inconceivable several years ago. The Masik Pass Ski resort was done through military labor with aid from Switzerland, perhaps showing some of Kim's past. Kim was rumored to have enjoyed the sport immensely as a teenager, and intends to bring in foreign investment into the country through this new project. While it is questionable if the resort will even be opened, it still stands as a testament to the new direction the country intends to pursue as foreign investment was viewed as taboo until the new leader's rise to power.

Behind the potential iron curtain, it is truly difficult to know what the objectives of this new leader are; as there are few foreigners who have met the dear leader (outside of Dennis Rodman), it truly is a change in North Korean culture. While the purge of his uncle may be seen as a return to the past as his uncle often traveled to China for business relations, it may have been that the young Kim truly desires to expand the country's horizons. The problem with truly verifying what is going on in the country is that there is such minimal information that much of the changes may be speculation, but the world can hope for a new North Korea, and perhaps a new unified Korea in the near future.