The pudgy 30-ish North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, just ordered the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-Taek (or Thaek). Why Jang was executed, at whose hand, and to what political end are now and may remain unclear. But it did not take long. No last rites, no final meal.
But among things that are clear among the murky Pyongyang skies is that this little boy whose mutual admiration society with Dennis Rodman -- who perhaps really belongs in the North Korean leadership but would be double the height -- is creepy, sick and otherwise one fxxxxxx dangerous dude. Further, we can discern that by eliminating Jang, whose credentials predate Kim's birth, the grandson of North Korea's founding leader removed not just a rival but an eminence grise -- the older power behind the throne. Kim and his entourage struck. One day the table may be turned.
Whether he is in control or his generals, someone in Pyongyang has missiles with nuclear warheads. The South Koreans, Japanese, and yes even the Chinese think Pyongyang is scary. They have demonstrated brazen disregard for most conventional restraints on states' behavior. The North Korean danger is not the Kim dynasty but the seeming genetic deterioration that leads inexorably to more juvenile thinking and more paranoid delusions.
Intriguingly and helpfully, there are North Koreans who get out, seek asylum, tell what they know and aid us in fathoming this bizarre inhumanity. North Korea is not as unknown as it once was, due to satellite photography of prison camps, missile test preparations, and much more sophisticated listening "tools." Somewhere at Fort Meade, there are better sources of information regarding last week's uncle-cide in Pyongyang.
Nevertheless, this is not the end.
Let's say Kim Jong-un lives for another 40-50 years. Even if we try to forget volatile tensions in seas near China, the Korean peninsula will remain a tinderbox with two million troops, including 30,000 Americans. Kim will have plenty of time to render havoc, mayhem, and war.
Is he sane enough to avoid tragedy? Sixty two years ago my uncle fought in Korea -- six years after my father reached the Elbe. Neither my father nor uncle ever wanted to talk about what they saw or did. I've seen that too many times and have the same emotions. Call it decades of PTSD.
But Kim doesn't remember the history of his own people, doesn't know basketball but likes Rodman, which is truly a recommendation. He thinks Pyongyang, like when he studied abroad under a fake name, is a place from which leaders can "order out" for anything.
I fear Kim's lack of leadership skills. But he surely is not a nephew to be trusted.
Daniel Nelson leads an international consulting firm in Virginia.
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