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Will North Korea change for the better?

Q & A with Christine Ahn, executive director of the Korea Policy Institute.
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Puhung Subway station is also an atomic shelter, April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Tuesday's public viewing of Kim Jong Il's body drove the point home. It's the end of an era for North Korea.

Or is it?

Korea Policy Institute's Christine Ahn says that a shift in figureheads doesn't necessarily signal any larger or corresponding shifts for North Korea.

In fact, what's coming to the fore more than anything else is how confident North Korea's political elite is in the continuation of the Kim dynasty, with the emergence of Kim Jong Un into the spotlight.

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Cuba declares 3 days of mourning for Kim Jong Il

The government's official statement, which was read on state television, also ordered Cuban flags to be flown at half staff.

Japan eyes new North Korea with caution

TOKYO — As an historical nemesis of the communist state, it has as much reason as any to fear a destabilizing power struggle in Pyongyang.

Body of Kim Jong Il lies in state ahead of funeral

Kim, who is lying in state at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace, was dressed in his trademark khaki tunic, with a red sheet covering most of his body.

Why the North Koreans cry

There are several explanations for this — by no means all of them involving sincere love for the notoriously self-centered dictator.

Kim Jong Il dead: The next of Kim

BOSTON — Whereas China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have drifted towards capitalist ways, North Korea is the last true Communist country left on earth.

Best Kim Jong Il spoofs: Team America, and more (VIDEO)

GlobalPost curates the best Kim Jong Il impressions, from Team America to 30 Rock to MADtv.
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In perhaps the best-known Kim Jong Il spoof, a puppet Kim Jong Il performs the song "I'm So Ronery" in the film Team America: World Police. (Screengrab)

There was something about Kim Jong Il that satirists couldn't resist. 

Was it his platform shoes? His bouffant hairdo? His vintage sunglasses? Or perhaps his famous "on-the-spot guidance," in which he would he would visit factories and army units and pretend to be an expert on everything (hydroelectric power, filmmaking, weaponry, chicken farming...)?

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Kim Jong Il's secret death

News of the Dear Leader's death came two days after the fact. Why did it take so long?
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A South Korean protester holds a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a rally in central Seoul on March 25, 2011. (Park Ji-hwan/AFP/Getty Images)

What does it say about a country when the death of its leader can be kept secret for two days?

In the case of North Korea, perhaps not much. In such a notoriously reclusive state, very little is transparent. There was no reason to think Kim Jong Il's death would be any different.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that Kim Jong Il is reported to have died on a railway train Saturday, and we didn't hear about it until Pyongyang put out an official announcement midday Monday.

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Asian markets and the Won decline after Kim Jong Il's death

The death of Kim Jong Il rattled Asian markets, with the indexes falling as analysts warned his death could cause an uncertain power transition and pausing any discussion aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported.

Kim Jong Il's successor: Who is Kim Jong Un?

"The regime appears to have tried to position Kim Jong Un as a sort of reincarnation of Kim Il Sung, whom the young man greatly resembles physically," according to GlobalPost's North Korea specialist Bradley K. Martin.
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