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John Key hopes for a 'brighter future' for North Koreans

Published: 6:27PM Monday December 19, 2011 Source: ONE News / Reuters

  • John Key (Source: ONE News)
    John Key - Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key says he hopes the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il will lead to a better future for people in the Stalinist country.

Key said North Koreans suffered extensively while under the rule of Jong-il and hopes for a smooth transition in leadership.

"We would hope, long term, for an improvement in the outlook for the people of North Korea who have suffered very badly," he said.

"We hope for a brighter future for them.

"I think the world will be looking on with some trepidation but obviously we hope that's a smooth transition."

Key, like the rest of the world, has concerns about what the death will mean for North Korea and says the takeover by Jong-il's son, Kim Jong-un, will be cautiously approached.

"If that's the case, he's very unknown and untried. So again that may cause some real issues."

Lecturer in Korea Studies from the University of Sydney Leonid Petrov says there are no doubts of succession from Jong-un, but the three-year period of mourning that follows Jong-il's death is where the concern lies.

"During this period Kim Jong-un will have three years to consolidate his power base," Petrov said.

"During those three years some power struggle might start because there are too many contenders who believe that they would be equally eligible for the power succession."

Japan recently held a special security meeting to prepare for any unexpected circumstances that may follow the death.

The funeral for Jong-il will be held on December 28 in Pyongyang after a seven-day period of accepting condolences.