Analysts warn new North Korean leader might want to show muscle

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“Obviously we have to be very concerned about the possibility of the transition not going smoothly, though all indications are they prepared for this,” Stares said.

Kim Jong Il’s death has thrown the region into uncertainty, and tensions were escalated Monday as the North Koreans launched a short-range missile test. They said it was unrelated to the former leader’s death.

Scott Snyder, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who focuses on Korea, said that little is known about Kim Jong Un, who went to boarding school in Switzerland.

“We really have a very limited knowledge base with regard to Kim Jong Un’s ideas or thoughts, or the possibly intended direction that he would take North Korea,” Snyder said.

Kim Jong Un will be dealing with people in the party and military who have been around much longer, Snyder said. “Since he’s young, I think the presumption is he’s going to be bound to the elites and to the leadership and have less capability to go off in his own direction.”