Is Kim Jong Un more dangerous than his father?
The late Kim Jong Il (left) and his son Kim Jong Un (right), the current leader of North Korea
March 7th, 2013
06:57 PM ET

Is Kim Jong Un more dangerous than his father?

By Elise Labott

North Korea's threat to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States has puzzled American officials, who see the regime ramping up its threats and rhetoric.

It's leading to the belief that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is more unpredictable, more dangerous and harder to read than his late father, Kim Jong Il.

"The new leader is acting in ways a bit more extreme than his father, who was colder and more calculated," a senior administration official said. "Kim Jong Il was more aware of the off-ramps to end these escalations.

"I don't recall he ever went this far in terms of the pace and scope of the rhetoric. Threatening to launch nukes directly against the United States and South Korea confirms what a lot of people have been saying, which is we are dealing with someone new," the official added.

Comparing Kim Jong Il, who died last December, to a chess player, the official said the son is more like a boxer.

"Nobody knows what he has planned, what he is thinking or contemplating doing or why the North Koreans are tripling down on their rhetoric," the official said.

Another senior administration official said Kim's youth and education abroad offered promise for many North Korea watchers that he would be more willing to engage with the West.

"Unfortunately, he is following the example of his father and grandfather pretty closely," the official said. "It's hard to be optimistic."

His grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was the founding leader of North Korea.

Officials said the latest threats, coupled with North Korea's nuclear test last month and its launch of a long-range rocket into space in December, have the United States and South Korea bracing for the possibility of a violent response by Pyongyang to tougher U.N. sanctions approved on Thursday.

They pointed to the 2010 sinking of a South Korean submarine and shelling of a South Korean island.

"It's dangerous to dismiss these threats as just rhetoric and propaganda, the second official said. "It's hard to predict."

Leading up to the U.N. vote, North Korea upped its bellicose rhetoric.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry suggested the United States "is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war."

As a result, North Korea "will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country," the country said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Despite the strong language, analysts say North Korea is years away from having the technology necessary to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile and aim it accurately at a target. And, analysts say, North Korea is unlikely to seek a direct military conflict with the United States.

North Korea's behavior is even more curious because it comes as South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, took office last week calling for new dialogue with the North. Although she pledged a strong defense posture and retaliation against North Korean provocations, she called for easing tensions that grew under her predecessor.

"Given that for five years they were so angry at the previous president, Lee Myung-bak, why would they mortgage the next five years by being so difficult when a new South Korea leader is just taking office," the first official asked. "It's so very concerning."

Officials note that China, North Korea's closest ally, has demonstrated unprecedented frustration with Pyongyang's behavior.

In rare public statements, a top Chinese Communist party official suggested that China abandon North Korea and support unification with South Korea.

"We are in a new territory. Something is happening in China," one of the officials said. "For the North to be acting this way at this time has everyone on edge on what is going on, but nobody has good answers because the country is so opaque. We are trying to find a precedence to explain this."

The worst possible explanation, the official said, "is that the North Koreans don't have a plan. That is when chances for miscalculation are the greatest."

soundoff (955 Responses)
  1. cheap dumpster rental new york

    March 7, 2021 at 9:30 am | Reply
  2. 카지노게임하는곳

    Hello to all, the contents existing at this web page are
    genuinely awesome for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

    My blog post: 카지노게임하는곳

    March 7, 2021 at 7:56 am | Reply
  3. buy windows 10 pro key

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

    March 7, 2021 at 4:36 am | Reply
  4. windows product key price

    Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Cheers

    March 7, 2021 at 4:08 am | Reply
  5. fortnite v bucks generator

    I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don't know who you are but definitely you are going to a
    famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

    March 7, 2021 at 3:23 am | Reply
  6. kampus lampung

    You really make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually one thing which I feel I would by no
    means understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely
    wide for me. I am looking ahead to your subsequent publish, I'll attempt to get the dangle of it!

    March 6, 2021 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  7. หวย

    I really like what you guys tend to be up too.
    This type of clever work and exposure! Keep up the amazing works guys I've included you guys to my blogroll.

    March 6, 2021 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  8. Fritz Maly

    March 6, 2021 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  9. Claude Selvig

    March 6, 2021 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  10. watchepisodeseries

    Hi, I read your new stuff regularly. Your humoristic style is
    awesome, keep doing what you're doing!

    March 6, 2021 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  11. Website

    great post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you've a great readers' base already!

    March 6, 2021 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  12. Homepage

    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You've done an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

    March 6, 2021 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  13. Franchesca Nyulassy

    March 6, 2021 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  14. advertising printing

    Asking questions are actually pleasant thing if you are not understanding anything entirely,
    however this article gives good understanding even.

    March 6, 2021 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  15. หวย

    Wonderful web site. Lots of useful information here. I'm sending it to a few friends
    ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks in your effort!

    March 6, 2021 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  16. idn poker deposit pulsa

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

    March 6, 2021 at 11:13 am | Reply
  17. Janee Ducrepin

    March 6, 2021 at 10:59 am | Reply
  18. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    Iím impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog thatís both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I came across this during my search for something concerning this.

    March 6, 2021 at 5:59 am | Reply
  19. free v bucks generator

    Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit
    once again since i have book marked it. Money and
    freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and
    continue to guide others.

    March 5, 2021 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  20. 먹튀검증

    Great information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!

    March 5, 2021 at 10:34 pm | Reply

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of
    the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

    March 5, 2021 at 10:20 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Leave a Reply to Jay


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.