I wouldn't rejoice on Kim Il's death just yet. This could mean disaster in more ways than one. The NK's will NEVER, EVER agree to cooperate with SK's because they see them as traitors. The US is an evil manipulator in their eyes. Would you trade your dignity and patriotism and join up with traitors to your country for some food? Probably not and neither would they. That's the way they see it and any force would only result in lots of death and suffering which I don't want to see on either side.
There will likely not be any reform in NK until their own people are ready. Any outside force will only bring them closer together.
It's good he's gone. He was a crazy bastard, that's for sure. It would be great if his successor was a bit more compassionate and stable, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.
If you build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day.
If you set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
North Korea is the most isolated country on the planet. Most of what we do know is pretty sketchy at best.
Basically given what is visible, that his father built such a powerful cult of personality it's simply too difficult to dismantle, I think some kind of a military council handles the day to day running of the country, leaving Kim Jong Il as more of a figurehead that they can't simply do away with, for fear of losing control of the country.
Can't tell people their whole lives that these guys are gods then all of a sudden say we don't need them anymore.
It's like telling kids Santa doesn't exist, except instead of kids we're talking millions of brainwashed citizens many of whom have guns, a break in the status quo in the armed forces would lead to a catastrophic civil war between rival generals.
Kim Jong-un will likely take over. Given his lack of senior leadership experience, he will likely rely heavily on the military and others whom assisted his father. He will probably maintain commitment to Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military centered society) imposed by Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il respectively. Given Songun, the military is not likely to accept a path that would dramatically lessen its role, authority, and influence. Hence, the opportunity for meaningful political change is likely small. The best one can hope for is some Chinese-style economic liberalization, but that approach would need to be reconciled with Juche, which has been used as an ideological means to rationalize North Korea's self-imposed isolation. That means, perhaps North Korea could attempt some economic "half measures" in the near-term and, such limited efforts could lack the scale to make a significant difference. At the same time, the military and senior leadership have both the means and will to thwart any uprising before it reaches a level necessary to threaten the political establishment. Such an uprising is probably a low probability event and a transition to Kim Jong-un's leadership will take place.
In sum, at least through the near-term, one can expect strong continuity with earlier North Korean policies (economic, military, and foreign policy). Any unique approach will take time to evolve and it will have to be reconciled more or less with Juche and Songun (easier task once Kim Jong-un has gained sufficient experience and clout, but very difficult at this point in time).
Here's hoping that Jong Un brings the Hermit Kingdom back into the world. It'll probably have to happen slowly as DonSutherland says, but any movement forward is a good thing.
I think his son will be just as nutty.
"He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
He probably started stinking so they had to let it out about him.