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North Korea will hold a funeral procession on Wednesday for its deceased "dear leader", Kim Jong-il, making way for his son, Kim Jong-un, to become the third member of the family to run the isolated and unpredictable Asian country.
The coming year was supposed to mark North Korea's self-proclaimed transformation into a "strong and prosperous" nation, but it faces a dangerous transition to a young, untested leader at a time when dictatorships across the world have tumbled.
It may also be the case that the North Korean government believes that belligerence will help to shore up the succession of Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un.