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New Leadership in North Korean Could Mean Closer Ties to China, says MU Professor

Sept. 9, 2008

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,
Seungkwon You, (573) 882-7693,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – On Tuesday, North Korean President Kim Jong Il was missing from the parade marking the 60th anniversary of North Korea, leading many to question if his absence means he is too sick to lead the country.

A University of Missouri associate professor of Korean education in the College of Arts and Science said that because Kim’s sons are most likely too young to take over the dictator’s role, power could fall in to the hands of military leaders, which are closely tied to China. A closer China and North Korean relationship would be harmful to the United States.

Seungkwon You, who also is a research associate for the MU Asian Affairs Center, said the anniversary parade in North Korea is one the biggest events of the year and something that Kim would not normally miss.

 “In Kim’s last public appearance he did not look healthy,” You said. “If he were to give up power, North Korea would most likely fall more in line with China’s leaders, which could have a major impact on the U.S. and North Korean relationship.”

 The University of Missouri’s Asian Affairs Center was created in 1998 to build on teaching and research connections in the region to benefit citizens, government entities, and businesses.