Questions about the aftermath of Kim’s demise in the nuclear-armed Hermit Kingdom surfaced alongside reports he was fighting for his life after undergoing emergency surgery. Experts belive his death would destabalise the region, create a massive refugee flow and force the US, South Korea and possibly other regional allies to deal with the turmoil.
This is a contingency operation that will make Afghanistan and Iraq pale in comparison
Colonel David Maxwell
Retired South Korean Lieutenant General Chun In-Bum, the former head of his nation’s special operations forces, told US Military Times there would be “chaos, human suffering, instability and bad news for everyone”.
And he warned any plans a South Korea/US alliance might have for moving into a post-Kim North Korea could have a devastating impact.
He said: “What are we going to do? March in there? Let the Chinese do it.
“North Korea is a sovereign country. Anyone going in there, including the Chinese, would be crazy.
“The South Korea/US alliance has a bad plan with bad assumptions. It will get us into a nuclear war.”
Former US serviceman Colonel David Maxwell, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies think tank, said a lack of clear succession would set chaos into motion in North Korea.
Kim Il Sung designated his son successor in 1973 and the Kim Il-sung designated his son success in 2009 or 2010.
Col Maxwell, a retired Special Forces commander, said: “It is unknown whether Kim Jong-un has designated a successor.
“We can speculate that perhaps his sister Kim Yo-jong has been designated as his successor based on her recent promotion and the fact she has begun making official statements in her name beginning last month.
“But it is unknown whether a woman, despite being part of the Paektu bloodline, could become the leader of the Kim family regime.”
Col Maxwell said having no clear successor could spark a regime collapse with the Kim leadership and the Workers Party of Korea unable to govern or maintain military cohesion and support.
He warned there were a lot of possible bad outcomes a South Korean/US alliance must be prepared to handle and said military planners has already been briefing senior leaders on what could transpire.
He predicted a “humanitarian disaster would unfold in North Korea” and warned it would be further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Col Maxwell told Military Times: “South Korea, China, and Japan are going to have to deal with potential large scale refugee flows.
“Units of the North Korean People’s Army are going to compete for resources and survival.
“This will lead to internal conflict among units and could escalate to widespread civil war.”
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But Col Maxwell warned even internal strife would not dampen North Korea’s animosity toward the outside world or its willingness to go to war.
He said: “Since North Korea is a guerrilla dynasty built on the myth of anti-Japanese partisan warfare we can expect large numbers of the military – 1.2 million active duty and 6 million reserves – to resist any and all outside foreign intervention to include from South Korea.”
The retired colonel also highlighted the problems in dealing with Kim’s huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
He said: “The South/Korean US alliance is going to have to be prepared to secure and render safe the entire WMD program, nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and stockpiles, manufacturing facilities, and scientists and technicians.
“This is a contingency operation that will make Afghanistan and Iraq pale in comparison.”
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