The death this weekend of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, who ruled the country with an iron fist since his father’s death in 1994, had immediate repercussions throughout Asia and beyond.
The New York Times reports that South Korea — which has been at war with North Korea since the early 1950s — immediately put its military on alert, “boosting surveillance along the 155-mile border between the two countries, one of the world’s most heavily armed frontiers.” The tension between the two countries escalated during the past several years after North Korea demonstrated nuclear capability.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Asian stock markets took a dive in response to the news, “with South Korea’s stock market and the won tumbling to multiweek lows…. With markets already reeling from the European debt crisis and global growth concerns, Kim’s death has added a dangerous layer of instability to the Korean peninsula,” the Journal noted, adding that “many Asian neighbors [are] uneasy about the leadership transition phase in one of the world’s most reclusive regimes.”
That unease was further heightened by the announcement that Kim’s son, Kim Jong-un, has been named the country’s new leader, despite his youth (he is in his twenties), lack of experience and isolation from other governments.
A 27 year old kid with nukes. Pretty scary stuff.