By James G. Zumwalt, October 18, 2006
Forwarded by Bill Thompson

It now appears North Korea's test of a nuclear device was partially successful. We need to understand not only why Pyongyang ignored international pressure — even from its sole ally, China — to conduct this test but also how it was allowed to be done.

The seeds for this test were planted in 1994 when Kim Jong-il's father, Kim Il Song, died. The father's rule for almost half a century was a brutal model for total submission — a laboratory experiment in mind control as his people were stripped of all outside contact, human dignity and independent thought. But the father maintained a critical balance between two foundations upon which stability of his power base rested — the party leadership and military.

When Kim Il-sung died, the son experienced uncertainty. Long groomed as his father's replacement, the son held, initially, a closer affinity to the party than the military. However, as later shared by Hwang Jong Yop, the most senior North Korean official to defect to the West, the son felt the party denied him the same respect it showed his father. Sensing a power void, the son's personal bodyguard, a two-star general, sought to fill it.

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