We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Last Days of Kim Jong-il

The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era

Bechtol, Bruce

Publication Year: 2013

North Korea has remained a thorn in the side of the United States ever since its creation in the aftermath of the Korean conflict of 1950û1953. Crafting a foreign policy that effectively deals with North Korea, while still ensuring stability and security on the Korean Peninsula-and in Northeast Asia as a whole-has proved very challenging for successive American administrations. In the wake of ruler Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011, analysts and policymakers continue to speculate about the effect his last years as leader will have on the future of North Korea.

Bruce Bechtol, Jr. contends that Kim Jong-il's regime (1994-2011) exacerbated the threats that North Korea posed, and still poses, to the world. Bechtol explains how North Korea presents important challenges on five key fronts: its evolving conventional military threat, its strategy in the Northern Limit Line (NLL) area, its nuclear capabilities, its support for terrorism, and its handling of the succession process.

Bechtol's analysis clears up the persistent mystery of how Kim Jong-il's dysfunctional government in its final years was able to persist in power while both presenting a grave danger to its neighbors and setting the stage for the current government. This work addresses issues important for policymakers and academics who must deal with those in power in North Korea.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (60.9 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Other Works by the Author, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.0 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (49.8 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (46.2 KB)
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (57.9 KB)
pp. xi-xvi

...The Kim Jong-il era in North Korea began with the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, in 1994 and ended with his own death in 2011 after suffering from a variety of ailments. While the United States was never on friendly terms with North Korea, the Kim Jong-il era represented a time when relations were perhaps more tense than they had been since the end of...

read more

1 Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (81.2 KB)
pp. 1-10

...With Kim Jong-il’s death at the end of 2011, a great deal of discussion has ensued in the international press, on radio and television shows, and in some short “think pieces” published by scholars and other experts on both sides of the Pacific. But perhaps precisely because Kim Jong-il’s death is so recent, almost no books have been published that specifically discuss the impact that Kim Jong-il’s last years as the leader of...

read more

2 Maintaining a Rogue Military: North Korea’s Military Capabilities and Strategy at the End of the Kim Jong-il Era and South Korea’s Ability to Counter the DPRK Threat

pdf iconDownload PDF (426.7 KB)
pp. 11-56

...health issues in 2009 led to a plethora of pondering press pieces all over East Asia and in the United States. Indeed, questions about how long the Dear Leader would continue to live also led to international curiosity about the regime succession process in North Korea and about the apparent plans for Kim to be succeeded by his third and youngest son, Kim Chong-un. But while these questions caught the fancy of the international...

read more

3 The Sinking of the Cheonan and the Shelling of Yeonpyeong Island: A Case Study of North Korea’s Asymmetric Northern Limit Line Strategy

pdf iconDownload PDF (364.3 KB)
pp. 57-88

...coast that separates the two Koreas, and launched what an investigation has now determined was a CHT-02D, indigenously produced, wake-homing torpedo at the ROK Navy ship Cheonan. The torpedo produced a bubble effect, causing an explosion that split the ship in half. Forty-six naval personnel (out of a crew of 104) perished in the attack...

read more

4 Planning for the Unthinkable: Countering a North Korean Nuclear Attack and Management of Postattack Scenarios

pdf iconDownload PDF (144.2 KB)
pp. 89-110

...when former American president Jimmy Carter was able to bring Pyongyang back from the brink and helped to negotiate what would later become known as the Agreed Framework. Since that time, North Korea has been engaged in on-again, off-again talks with the United States and other key players in the region; used numerous acts of brinkmanship with its nuclear program; and conducted...

read more

5 North Korea and Support for Terrorism: An Evolving History

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.2 KB)
pp. 111-128

...To understand Pyongyang’s current policy of supporting non-state actors—most proving to be groups acknowledged as terrorists—first one must understand how this policy evolved. The leaders in Pyongyang did not wake up one morning and simply decide to train and equip terrorist groups at various locations around the globe. Rather, North Korea began actively supporting groups that engage in terrorism—and Pyongyang, in fact, engaged in its own acts of terrorism...

read more

6 Conclusion: The Impact of the Last Years of the Kim Jong-il Regime on the Future of North Korea

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.5 KB)
pp. 129-146

...profound impact on what was to come later. Ultimately, Kim Jong-il apparently did not feel compelled to begin a succession process in any kind of focused way until after he had suffered a stroke in 2008.1 The reasons for this are still quite puzzling. In Confucian societies, the oldest son is the traditional heir, yet both the first and second sons proved not to be “up to the task,” at least in the eyes of Kim Jong-il and the North Korean...


pdf iconDownload PDF (614.3 KB)
pp. 147-196

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (190.1 KB)
pp. 197-214


pdf iconDownload PDF (251.5 KB)
pp. 215-222

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (28.8 KB)
p. 223-223

...Bruce E. Bechtol, Jr., is associate professor of political science at Angelo State University and a retired marine. He was formerly on the faculty at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (2005–2010) and the Air Command and Staff College (2003–2005). Dr. Bechtol served as an adjunct visiting professor at the Korea University Graduate School of...

E-ISBN-13: 9781612346120
E-ISBN-10: 161234612X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781612346113
Print-ISBN-10: 1612346111

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013