"In 2009, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) embarked on a course that includes a series of extremely provocative military actions, a shift in power toward the military, emphasis on ideological purity, rising criticism of the United States, and going forward with its nuclear and missile program in spite of sanctions and objections from much of the rest of the world. Two factors that seem to be operating to compel this more 'aggressive' behavior by Pyongyang. The first is the apparent stroke by North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, in August 2008. The country appears to be preparing for succession, and in jockeying for position, the military seems to be gaining in policy precedence over the civilian side of government, and the militaryfirst doctrine is prevailing over economic reform. The second factor has been the preparations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the DPRK, in 2012. By then the country wants to join the club of nuclear and space powers and to be an Asian tiger economy."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32493