North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has died, and Illinois’ U.S. senators are worried about that country’s future. It’s expected Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, will take the reins. U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill) hopes the new leader doesn't stage a military attack just to show he's a tough guy.
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“My hope is that no action is taken by this government,” he says. “President Obama was exactly correct in calling South Korean leadership and reaffirming our alliance.” Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says there’s a chance Kim Jong Un won’t be as bad as his father. “For the stability of the Korean Peninsula and Asia, I’m hopeful this will be a peaceful transition, even more hopeful that the new leader, who’s at least been exposed to the West, perhaps he will be open to bringing North Korea out of the dark ages,” he says. Durbin says the best outcome from this change in leadership would be a change in direction for North Korea, and peace for the entire peninsula. He says perhaps Kim Jong Un will lead the country “into the 20th century.”
Kirk isn’t sure if Kim Jong Un will rule the country as his father did, but notes he has little military and leadership experience, making it unclear if he’ll be accepted. Kirk says there is a chance he’ll be better than his father, in which case the U.S. should try to foster relations. If the U.S. is invited to Kim Jong Il’s funeral, Kirk says a delegation should be sent.