With the death of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, attention has turned to the successor he named before he died. Little is known about his third son, Kim Jong Un. Robert Siegel talks with an author who goes by the penname James Church. Church has written a series of fiction books set in North Korea, and he is a former western intelligence officer who has been to North Korea many times.
As North Korea mourns the death of its leader Kim Jong Il, both South Korea and China have reacted to the risk of instability on their borders. The South Korean military has been placed on alert, and there are reports that the Chinese have closed their border with North Korea. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Louisa Lim, who is watching events from the South Korean capital, Seoul.
2011 is shaping up to be the safest on record for airline travel, according to analysis of United Nations data by a trade group.
The International Air Transport Association reports that January to November of 2011 are the safest months on record since the U.N. started keeping data in 1945. The 11-month period has also seen a 22 percent improvement in safety from last year.
There's certainly already been a lot said about North Korea's Kim Jong Il. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has an obit and Planet Money has a recap of how North Korea's economy is fueled by drug dealing and smuggling of counterfeit goods.
Kim Jong Il succeeded his father and ruled the secretive nation for 17 years. It was a period that included repeated friction with the international community over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and a devastating famine in the late 1990s that may have been responsible for upwards of 2 million deaths.