It is an anachronism of sorts that in today’s times there is a dictator like Kim Jong- un of North Korea whose atrocities against his own people can cross all limits of ghastliness. That he has got his estranged and exiled half-brother sprayed with some sort of chemical that killed him instantly at a Malaysian airport should not cause any surprise because his ruthlessness defied rationality. Dictators like Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein have fallen by the wayside but there still are the likes of Kim who go on and thrive. Since Kim Jong-un took power he has had no compunction in executing officials perceived as a threat to his authority – in the most high-profile case, his uncle and senior mentor Chang Song-taek. And North Korea has a long history of sending agents overseas to carry out assassinations, attacks and kidnappings. Kim’s father who died in 2011 was his predecessor and was equally if not more brutal.
Kim had been under the protection of the Chinese since they moved to their new base of Macau. The reports are that the Chinese government was looking at assassinating him for long but he was so well protected that they had to wait till he moved out of the Macau home on a visit. South Korea’s spy agency said two women believed to be agents of the North Korean government attacked Kim. They then reportedly fled. Finding out who these women were would go a long way in unlocking the mystery of Kim’s attackers. With the Americans toughening their stance against North Korea with fresh sanctions imposed against them only a few days ago, the heat on Kim will get more intense. This is one of the things on which the interests of China and US converge, though they have frosty relations otherwise. Both despise Kim for different reasons.
The nuclear might of the North Koreans and the persistent defiance of Kim have angered the Trump administration no end. President Donald Trump, who is the object of Kim’s ridicule is looking for ways to get even with him. The Chinese too are looking for a pliant leader in North Korea and want to see his back. The recklessness with which Kim operates, killing people at will, is not to China’s liking too. The future would indeed be a time to watch. To assert their respective authority, both the US and China would like to replace Kim. Whether they would have their way and who will have the last laugh is for the world to see.