Australian Statement on the death of Kim Jong Il

[The following was a joint media release by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Kevin Rudd, and the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan, issued to the press on 19 December 2011. –CanKor]

The death of Kim Jong-Il is a major development in North Korea and potentially for the wider Asian region.

The Korean peninsula is among the world’s most heavily armed regions, and a potential flashpoint.

North Korea is one of the most isolated regimes on earth, and one of the most dangerous. Its nuclear and missile programs present a real and credible threat to the region and, potentially, to Australia.

It is essential with Kim Jong-Il’s passing that stability on the Korean peninsula is maintained. It is vital that all those with influence on Pyongyang reinforce the need for calm and restraint.

Kim Jong-Il’s passing may also represent an opportunity for the North Korean regime to act more responsibly both domestically and internationally. The Australian Government will continue to urge Pyongyang to act in the interests of its own people and to engage constructively with the international community.

The Government is monitoring developments with close interest and consulting closely with our allies and partners.

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RCI interview of CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton on death of KJI

An interview in Mandarin with Charles Burton, in Mandarin, on the leadership succession in North Korea by Anddy Zhao was broadcast on Radio Canada International on December 19 (starts about 7 minutes in after the news). To listen, click here.

Why another blog on North Korea?

Satellite picture displaying the Korean penins...

Satellite picture displaying the Korean peninsula at night

By Timothy Savage, former CanKor Blog editor.

Commenting on the goings-on in the “Hermit Kingdom” has become something of a growth industry, with a proliferation of blogs of various quality and reliability. How do we differentiate ourselves within this ever-growing blogosphere? To start with, while we may be coming into blogging somewhat late in the game, we’re hardly neophytes when it comes to the DPRK. CanKor has been providing information on North Korea for the last decade. Each contributor to The Cankor Blog has a long professional experience with the DPRK. While we can’t claim to know everything that’s going on inside that country (no one can), we believe that the expertise and insight that our contributors bring to the discussion can promote better understanding of the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. Secondly, The Cankor Blog is unique in its focus on the efforts of non-6P countries-those who have been on the sidelines of the Six-Party Talks: middle powers like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the EU states, and Asian nations who are not immediate neighbours of Korea. These countries play an important but often overlooked role in efforts to draw North Korea out of its isolation and alleviate its chronic humanitarian crisis. As much as possible, we want to highlight the engagement being carried out by governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations that often gets lost in the debate over the nuclear and succession issues.

Above all, we approach this task with a dose of humility, recognizing that no one can really know more than a small piece of the puzzle that is North Korea. We welcome feedback from our readers to challenge us when we start to assume more than we know, or to alert us to aspects of the issues that we might have missed. We hope that by adding our own small piece, we can shed a little light and help identify a bit of signal among all the noise.

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