Tuesday 27 December 2011

We were there!

"Kim Jong-il, North Korean dictator, dies".  NYT, 19 Dec
Huang Wenguang recalls being in Peking in 1976, when Mao Tse-tung died (The Dear Leader is dead, again, IHT, Dec 26).  I was there as well, a young, new student of Chinese, newly landed in the capital.  And also there was a 14-year old, about the age of Huang, I guess, called Jing and she was to become my wife about two decades later. I recall, as does Huang, the tears on the street, some of them real, some crocodile, squeezed out to make sure that one didn't get reported for being less than fully caring of the Great Leader.
And that leads him to thoughts about Kim Jong-il's death, and the outpourings of grief and "grief".
He wonders if the new "leader", Kim Jong-un, might lead to opening up in North Korea.  He's too smart to commit himself.  For my part, I'd simply observe that we thought there might have been an opening in the 80s when we first went there to do some coking coal business. That was the time that Deng Xiaoping had begun the full opening up of China, and it seemed opportune for the "little brother" to follow in those steps.  But they didn't.
And I bet they don't again. At least while "un" is there... My bet is that Jong-un will be the same as his dad, as long as he can, but that that that may not be long.
There will be a power struggle, he will be overthrown and then we might get something happening.  But not with him there.
At least that's my bet.