Kim goes out to buy gas – or so he says

By Sipho Hlongwane 25 August 2011

The official word is North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il visited Russia this week to secure a gas deal. The whispers in the corridors are Muammar Gaddafi’s imminent fall unnerved him, and he went to see Medvedev to secure an ally for his successor. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

Kim Jong Il travelled to eastern Siberia via armoured train and met with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev in Ulan-Ude near Lake Baikal, to discuss an electricity and gas deal. Some of the gas may not even be for North Korea. Kim could have been securing a deal which would allow Russian gas to run through his almost globally alienated country to South Korea, which would earn the North state about R720 million a year.

Lee Jong Min, dean of international studies at Yonsei University, believes Kim’s visit to Siberia may have been motivated more by events in Libya than anything else. Kim has appointed his third son Kim Jong Un as his successor – a surprising move given that hardly anybody believes the fat young man has what it takes. “That dynamic is probably much more alarming to Kim Jong-Il than anything else,” Lee said. “He’s prompted by the need to bolster his power.”

Kim senior has reportedly secured the grudging support of China, and now seeks that of Russia as well. He may not be on speaking terms with most of the world, but shouldn’t he wait for the International Criminal Court arrest warrant before freaking out about his dynasty? DM

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