Dear Mr Kim Jong-un

Dear Mr Kim Jong-un

A new year has begun. All of a sudden, you had to hold a state funeral at the end of the last year and still, you must feel a deep sadness. However, as a new leader, you seem to work very hard every day without a break. Indeed, a position of the only successor to take over the “Dear Leader” is a truly serious and crucial job in North Korea.

It would not be simply an honour and a glory for a 20-something to take responsibility for an entire nation. It is rather, a burden and a load. Of course, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il led North Korea when they were still young but you are in a different situation. Difficulties are only mounting on the current government of North Korea and your leadership is not yet established. Everything is not stable, but flexible wide open to changes. Therefore, your role and efforts are vital.

Kim Jong-il also succeeded in a very difficult time. At that time, socialism collapsed, large-scale floods followed one after another and a great deal of pressure from the USA and South Korea continued. He came to the position of “Dear Leader” after the three-year mourning. He continued a tug of war between the USA through nuclear weapons and he did try changes in inter-Korean relations with summits twice. Nevertheless, economic plight is worsening, nuclear issue is still big, US-North Korea relations are in stalemate and even inter-Korean relations are under strain. To put it in a nutshell, he was ok with defence but ended in failure of boom which is essential for future promotion.

It means an assignment of boom and promotion is given to you. If you also end in failure this time, you may have to close down everything. Indeed, you are at the critical crossroads. This is why you have to raise the faltering economy, feed the starving people of North Korea, move the US-North Korean relations, improve inter-Korean relations and bring peaceful unification.

Your father made careful preparations for your smooth succession. After he found his health problems, he worked hard to hand over the reins of power, including constitutional amendments and the reorganisations of party, government, and army. He even gave an order in advance that you would be supreme commander-in-chief immediately after his death. In a short period of time, he established hardware for succession but on the other hand, he lacked sufficient time to install pieces of software for a successor to run the country. He was not able to give lessons to you on a new policy line and a blueprint for the future because he cared deeply about political and systematic issues.

However, you have to do more than your father, far above his teachings, in order to weather a crisis and to promote growth. With young and new leadership, you must take a different direction for ‘your own North Korea’ and that should be the ideology of economy first, not that of army first. It was maybe necessary to visit first tank units according to your father’s teachings but now you have to find some changes visiting factories, companies, and collective farms. Of course, a friendly environment must be created for you if you want to go ahead with the ideology of economy first. Therefore, you have to take a new line on inter-Korean relations.

I also asked President Lee Myung-bak for statute of limitations. It is like let all the fierce rivalries and deep scars of the past go with the death of Kim Jong-il. In other words, let us close the cases of Cheonanham and Yeonpyeongdo upon his death and start a new era of inter-Korean relations. To this end, you have to accept this as well. Instead of criticism and disapproval of South Korea, you need strong determination to start with the Lee Myung-bak administration. Instead of swear words, the ideology of economy first and cooperative inter-Korean relations should be your selling points. Then, the current crisis will turn to an opportunity for you.

Best regards,

Kim Kun-shik
Professor of Kyungnam University

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