Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Same old Pyongyang

North Korea returns to form by threatening its inoffensive southern neighbour.

Reading the tea leaves on North Korea has launched academic careers and formed the basis of entire political science departments. The combination of hyper-paranoid secrecy and near-total international isolation has made the so-called Hermit Kingdom more inscrutable than any country in the world.

Or so goes the conventional wisdom. As information leaks out of North Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il, who will be buried with full state honours today, a picture is emerging of Kim family elders and senior generals consolidating power. Hmmm. A dictatorship where power is monopolised by the military and one autocratic family? That does not sound so unusual after all.

Another familiar refrain coming out of Pyongyang is the belligerent propaganda. North Korea has warned of "unpredictable catastrophic consequences" for South Korea apparently because its southern neighbour hasn't shown enough remorse over Kim Jong-il's demise. The two countries are technically still at war, and the North regularly thunders about "reducing Seoul to a sea of ashes" and the like.

For South Korea, these are not empty threats: North Korea has launched fatal attacks against its civilians without provocation, such as the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island last year. There will be academic speculation about the consequences of the Kim succession, but for South Korea this is an all-too-familiar reality.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Bloom Properties' Al Bateen Waterfront project in Abu Dhabi. Photo courtesy Bloom Properties

Bloom Properties starts work on Al Bateen Waterfront project

The development will feature 225 residential apartments of one to four bedrooms, a 200-room five-star hotel with 57 serviced apartments, and a 3,000 square metre retail space

 This comparison image shown on Reddit annotated the objects with vehicles from the movies.

What Star Wars fans say is going on in Abu Dhabi’s desert

We may still not know exactly what The National caught pictures of in the Abu Dhabi desert last week, but the online community has had plenty to say. Here are some of the best bits.

 Courtesy Al Ittihad

Time frame: It’s all going swimmingly

Built on what was originally a public park, Ain Al Faida - the flowing source - became one of the country’s first resort hotels when it opened in the mid 1970s.

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Jia Ruhan sang as a guest singer in famous pianist Robert Wells's concert 'rockabilly-medley' in November 2012. Handout

Meet the pop star who is key to China’s superpower ambitions

Before Beijing can achieve its ambitions to be a superpower it will need to become a respected soft power. That's where Jia Ruhan comes in.

 Screen shot from Vin Deisel's facebook page of he and Michelle Rodriguez in Abu Dhabi for the filming of Fast & Furious 7. April 2014

Fast & Furious in Abu Dhabi, a social media frenzy

Fast & Furious 7 wraps up an eventful and much-anticipated week of filming in the capital. Let's take a look at what went on via the key players' social media, while they were enjoying the delights of the desert.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National