Yesterday, I criticized Barack Obama for appointing a 31-year-old with no executive or auto-industry experience to run the GM bankruptcy. Now, though, Obama has competition for the Most Clueless Executive. Kim Jong-Il has finally selected a successor to run his regime in North Korea, and he’s chosen a 25-year-old layabout. At least this one’s related:
North Korea’s ailing leader has chosen his youngest son — who is just 26, attended a Swiss boarding school and reportedly admires basketball great Michael Jordan — as heir to the family dynasty that rules the secretive state, South Korea’s intelligence service told lawmakers in Seoul.
Kim Jong-un is the third son of Kim Jong Il, the “Dear Leader” who suffered a stroke last summer and who has since appeared thin and frail. He is the grandson of the late Kim Il Sung, the “Great Leader” and founding dictator of North Korea.
If Kim Jong-un does become the new leader — and there are analysts who doubt the decision is final — this second consecutive father-to-son hand off would be unique among nations that call themselves communist. There was no indication, however, that Kim Jong Il would be handing over power any time soon.
The official name of North Korea, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, would become an anachronism. The “republic” would turn into a de facto monarchy, with Kim’s royal family holding power. Not only is this unique among communist nations, it’s also unique among those nations gripped by cults of personality. Usually the cult dies with the first leader; transferring it to two succeeding generations would be quite a feat.
That may not happen, however. Kim Jong-Un has no real power base, which is why Kim Jong-Il let the military have its field day with missile and nuclear-weapons tests. Kim père has to get them to agree to the transfer of power when he dies, or his youngest son will join him quickly in death.
Even with the freedom to play with the shiny toys, one has to wonder whether the military will merely humor the elder Kim until he finally reaches room temperature. North Korea is starving to death, isolated from the world, a pariah nation that can look across the DMZ and see what might have been. The chain of command may already believe that they could do a better job running the joint than the current Kim, and a 26-year-old rookie won’t look like a good bet for them. Rather than wait for Jong-Un to build his own cult of personality and become too powerful to control, I’d bet that Kim’s generals already have plans to end the Kim dynasty after the second Dear Leader leaves.