Christian Oliver is the FT's man covering Korea South or North. In the 8 July 2010 edition, he contributed an analysis of what is happening in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] as to dynastic succession among Kim Jong il's offspring and wider family and the core group of elites.
'Drastic Dynastics' muses over the in's and out's of the road to nominating Kim Jong il's youngest and third son Kim Jong un as the next Kim to lead the DPRK.
Oliver treats us to a rehash of assassinations of key officials to smooth the way; the jockeying of once disgraced figures now brought back into favour; 'desperate measures' of North Korea to turn attention from internal economic, political, troubles by turning the attention elsewhere. Translation: the sinking of the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette 'the Cheonan' in March 2010, the testing of short and medium range missiles, and possibly explosion of more nuclear devices, and North Korea's drive to develop a 'fusion bomb'.
The FT analysis has a gallery of the usual suspects and a comparison under the rubrique 'Brothers in arms' comparing the ROK and DPRK military strengths, sourced by the 'Economist Intelligence Unit'. The figures for the North remain approximative, owing to the 'free world's' blockade and enforced isolation of North Korea.
Will the reader learn anything new? Possibly.
A closer read finds a fabric woven with speculation more tired than fresh; red herrings set to sea by American and South Korean intelligence agencies, and above all, the incomprehensability to make something of what is happening REALLY! in the DPRK.
Of course the general outline is there, but it has been there for a relatively long time now.
You have to go back to Bertil Lintner's 'Dear Leader: Demystifying North Korea under the Kim clan', to get a sense of reality.
Getting a grasp of the DPRK means opening relations with it. An educated scholar and public is the best way of better understanding North Korea.
That is too simple. So with all due respects to Oliver, the US and South Koreans and western media and spooks take the easy road out by dipping into 'suspect' rumours, impossible theories, or turning back the clock to the heady days of the Cold War when spooks were spooks and diplomats thrived among warriors to roll the bloody Commie back to kingdom come.