If you have an interest in north Korea, read Dr. Bechtol's book.
2013/05/28 08:25 KST
(Yonhap Interview) In new book, Bechtol says Kim Jong-il still matters in N. Korea
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Bruce Bechtol, a prominent North Korea expert in the U.S., believes it's important to revisit the final years of the Kim Jong-il regime to fathom the strategy of the current leadership of Kim Jong-un.
"I think that everything that's going on right now in North Korea was set up by Kim Jong-il before he died," in December 2011, he told Yonhap News Agency in a phone interview.
Bechtol, an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University in Texas, said that's why he authored a 223-page book, titled, "The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean threats in a changing era." It's his third book on North Korea.
"My assessment is that Kim Jong-il made a number of policy moves during the last years of his rule that will have a profound effect on how North Korea evolves in coming years," Bechtol said in the book.
A defiant foreign and military policy, a track record of proliferation and the development of a nuclear weaponization program point to the conclusion that Kim's plan was for North Korea to continue operating as an aggressive, authoritarian state, he added.
Writing such a book focusing on the policy of the late North Korean leader is rather unusual, as the world is paying attention to almost every word and act of the new young leader Kim Jong-un.
Under the junior Kim's leadership, the North has shown a mixed signal by talking about economic reforms, churning out military threats and hinting at an intent to talk with Washington.
The North fired two long-range rockets in 2012 and carried out a nuclear test earlier this year.
Most recently, however, North Korean envoy Choe Ryong-hae told Chinese leaders that Pyongyang was willing to return to the dialogue table, including the long-stalled six-way nuclear talks with South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
Bechtol, formerly a senior intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, doubts Pyongyang will avert its course.
"Because the primary motivation behind North Korea's nuclear proliferation is money - not ideology - and because the regime's isolation is inclined to make incoming funds an ongoing issue, this highly dangerous proliferation policy is probably going to continue under the new regime," he said.
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