In the light of the torpedo crisis, North Korea expert, Ruediger Frank, from the University of Vienna offers this analysis.
“A famine, a set of failed economic policies, and Kim’s obvious health issues have created a situation of frustration, insecurity, and nervousness. The Pyongyang elite will be holding their breath and watching closely how Kim Jong Il reacts. What if he does not succeed in creating the impression that sinking the Cheonan was his idea? Even if so, this is a catch-22 since it invites a potentially destructive counter reaction by South Korea and the United States. If it wasn’t done on his command, will Kim Jong Il conduct a major purge of the culprits like his father did in 1956, when a trip to Europe was used to launch a coup against him? If he doesn’t, then the vultures will get more courageous.
However, it is very unlikely that an unfriendly takeover of the top post in Pyongyang would happen quickly, effectively, and peacefully. Chances are much better for the emergence of the chaotic situation that North Korea’s neighbors have tried to avoid for a long time at the economic and political cost of deliberately propping up the Kim Jong Il regime. The potential effects include a humanitarian disaster, a last-ditch effort at a military solution, or the active involvement of superpowers like China.
In short, we have reason to be really worried this time.”