COMMENTARY | With his father, Kim Jong Il, safely interred, North Korea's new tyrant, the twentysomething Kim Jong Un is moving to consolidate his power. This is fraught with some difficulty as Jong Un has not had 20 years of being groomed for leadership.
Stages rallies with tens of thousands of North Koreans pledging their loyalty to Kim Jong Un are being staged, according to the Associated Press. In addition the new dictator is being displayed in situations to make a virtue of his youth and thus his presumed health and vigor, including making an inspection of an elite tank regiment.
The footage of the inspection also buttresses Kim Jong Un's association with one of the three institutions that hold power in North Korea, the army. The other two are the secret police and the North Korean Communist Party.
It has been conventional wisdom that Kim Jong Un due to his youth and inexperience, would have trouble consolidating power. He has not been vetted, as his father was, and has thus far been an unknown quality.
This has led to concerns about instability on the Korean peninsula. Two vast armies, which include a reinforced American Army division in the south, face each other over a ceasefire line as they have since the end of the Korean War almost 60 years ago. North Korea also has nuclear weapons, though perhaps not an effective means to deliver them -- yet.
North Korea is also wracked with economic turmoil which has caused it to be dependent on foreign aid, mainly from China, in order to feed its own people. The shadow of famine and all of its attended horrors is never far away.
North Korea's neighbors are looking on at how Kim Jong Un takes power with considerable nervousness. With the threat of both war and famine never far away, the Korean peninsula is a powder keg ready to explode. It would be a conflagration that would not only consume both Koreas, but also China, Japan and the United States.
The prospect of some kind of Korean perestroika in which North Korea finally begins reforms is remote at best. The North Korean leadership has too much at stake to allow that to happen. The best that can be hoped for the time being is the continuation of the nervous, hostile stability that has existed for the past several decades.