Given Pyongyang's bluster since its young leader Kim Jong-un took power, it's easy to forget the mercurial ways of his late father Kim Jong-il. According to respected American expert Bruce Bechtol, however, it is essential for the international community to review the details of his final years to better understand the Kim dynasty.
The former senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency contends that Kim, who died in 2011, used foreign and domestic policies in his final years to exacerbate multifaceted threats so that the family regime could survive after his death. These included, he says, not only its conventional threats but also its efforts at proliferation involving Middle Eastern states such as Iran and Syria as well as non-state actors that engage in terror.
The book is unique in its analysis of the late Kim Jong-il era from a security perspective and touches on the issue of the North's conventional forces, which are often overshadowed by attention to its nuclear program.
Bechtol, an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University in Texas, also analyzes the North's strategy near the disputed Northern Limit Line, its nuclear intentions and the succession process to paint a compelling picture of Kim's final years and the future of the Kim Jong-un regime.