The real power behind North Korea
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao accompanies Premier of Democratic People's Republic of Korea Choe Yong Rim to view a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on September 26, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)
January 13th, 2012
01:41 PM ET

The real power behind North Korea

Editor's Note: Neil K. Shenai is doctoral candidate in International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, writing his dissertation on the global financial crisis. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter. Kevin Kim is a Research Fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, where he is an Editor of the SAIS Review

By Neil K. Shenai and Kevin Y. Kim - Special to CNN

In the weeks following Kim Jong-il’s death, many North Korea observers questioned whether his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong-un, could successfully consolidate power in the wake of his father’s death. According to this view, understanding what happens inside of North Korea is instrumental in forecasting its behavior.