North Korea's New Leader Kim Jong-un Inherits Father's Nuclear Legacy and Country's Uncertain Future
Tens of thousands of North Koreans filled the capital Pyongyang today to attend a state funeral for their leader, Kim Jong-il, who died of heart attack on December 17 at the age of 69. Presiding over the ceremony was his son, Kim Jong-un, who is transitioning into power, and all of the top advisers spanning three generations. Our guest is Bruce Cumings, professor of history at the University of Chicago and author of several books on Korea. Speaking of North Korea’s transformation into a nuclear state, Cumings says: "That is essentially Kim Jong-il’s only legacy, if you can call that a positive legacy… Otherwise, his 17 years are going to be seen as a period of failure." Of the ascension of Kim Jong-un, Cumings notes: "In a monarchy, you don’t assume that the king is running everything. The king is a symbol of the regime, and that’s even more true of Kim Jong-un, than his grandfather or father. You have an enormous collection of power in the military and the party that stands behind him, and in that sense, they’re running things, not Kim Jong-un."