Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine what Kim Jong-Un will do. According to what I’ve read, he’s either an idiot or a manipulative genius who knows exactly what he is doing. If Kim Jong-Un learned anything at all from his father, my guess is on the latter. As Slate observes, Kim Jong Il used what little he had to manipulate the South in many ways. During my ten year stay in South Korea, I think that Kim Jong Il threatened to attack the South no less than three times.
While idle threats wouldn’t work with most other nations, North Korea and Kim Jong Il in particular was able to play upon the sentimentality of South Koreans who felt both threatened by the North and sad for the people who they are tied to by blood. I noticed that whenever North Korea wanted aid from the North, they would threaten the South who always capitulated because of the Korean people’s deep love for their neighbors to the North.
The recent history of North Korea and multi-nation talks suggests that the North needed a little more leverage to get what they wanted from the South and the West, which is why they detonated a nuclear bomb in 2006. At that time, they had much more leverage to back up any threats that were made. Over the course of many years, the North was angry with South Korea for allowing the United States presence in South Korea.
The United States still maintains a military presence in South Korea, but since the troops got diverted elsewhere, there has much less of a presence. Some Americans also believed that the South misused the American presence or at least mis-termed when some Koreans referred to the American troops on the DMZ as the trip wire.
It’s anybody’s guess what will happen now in North Korea, but I’m sure that all eyes will be on Northeast Asia right now.