Fearless Forecast

Kim Jung-un, the North Korean leader, who is also the Chinese People’s Daily’s “sexiest man alive,” ended this year with a bang. He had ordered a successful rocket launch into space that put an object into an impressive 500-kilometer orbit. Warned by everybody not to do it as it would escalate tensions in the region, he did it anyway. Nobody was amused, not even his Chinese patrons. The fury of the US, Japan and South Korea, all proven to be within reach of the Hermit’s Kingdom’s rockets, knew no bounds.

But that consolidated Kim’s leadership. With his throne secure and the military under his thumb, he well may now start North Korea on a path of economic reform, a la Deng Xiaoping. Far-fetched? Anything is possible in the year of the water snake.

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