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MOSCOW, December 20 (Itar-Tass) — Kim Yong Il, “the beloved leader,” died in DPRK at the age of 69. He will be succeeded by Kim Jong Un, his younger son, who is in his twenties. Despite the continuity of power, experts fear that after Kim Yong Il’s death the most closed state in the world, which has a nuclear bomb, will live through major upheavals.
In this situation Moscow hopes that the new North Korean leader will continue the implementation of projects with the participation of Gazprom, Russian Railways Company and Inter RAO, which will help avoid the destabilization of the situation in the region, Kommersant writes.
The new DPRK leader will have to choose a model of the country’s development and a way to remain in power, the newspaper continues. At the beginning Pyongyang will stick to the previous course, but in a long-term perspective North Korea will hardly be able to remain the only country in the world with a Stalinist model of development. One of the possible ways is the strengthening of China’s influence. Beijing, wishing to consolidate its positions in the region, does not want the unification of the two Koreas under the aegis of the Westernized South Korea. In order to prevent it, China may take upon itself the support for DPRK, together with all the economic, political and military risks. In the geopolitical setting this way would be not very good for Washington, but it would ensure the predictability and relative stability in DPRK, which possesses nuclear weapons.
Another way is the advance towards the unification of the Korean Peninsula, Kommersant writes. South Korea, with a population of 49 million, will find it difficult to consume DPRK, whose economy is disintegrating. Besides, it will have to tackle the problem of immunity guarantees for the DPRK elite and the labor employment of officers and men of the North Korean army. A source in the South Korean government told the newspaper that Seoul is already considering various ways, including the turning of the united Korea into the biggest exporter of peacekeeping troops for U.N. operations. If the United States decides that the strengthening of China at the expense of DPRK is unacceptable, it may promote Seoul’s unification with DPRK and supply the needed financial resources.
Russia has an opinion of its own, concerning the DPRK problem. According to a source in the Russian government, interviewed by Kommersant, Moscow is still pinning hope on the peacekeeping potential of the three-party projects, with the participation of Russia and both Korean states, including the building of a trans-Korean gas pipeline, a railway and a power-transmission line. According to Kommersant’s source in the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow hopes that the death of Kim Yong Il will not bring about any changes in their implementation, because Russia signed contracts “with the North Korean top officials, and not with the concrete leader.”