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03 February 2009

Prepare for North Korean instability

By Paul B. Stares

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il finally emerged late last month after reportedly suffering a major stroke six months ago. Although dispelling one rumor -- he didn't die -- his appearance did nothing to stop speculation about his health and who will succeed him. The temptation is to wait and see, but this would be unwise. The United States and its Asian allies must prepare for the possibility that the leadership of North Korea may change sooner rather than later, and not necessarily smoothly.

Mortality statistics suggest that nearly a quarter of all men who have a stroke after the age of 65 -- Kim will turn 68 on Feb. 16 -- will die within a year. The odds of surviving five years are about 50-50. For diabetics -- and Kim is believed to be one -- a 2008 Indiana University study reports that life expectancy is 15% lower. So, although his prognosis is not terrible, neither is it very good.

[Hey Kimmy, here's a jelly doughnut for you. - Sarge]

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