Kim Jong-il's death in December shook the world. Since then, governments and media outlets have reacted with optimism, considering this a golden opportunity for a new start for relations with North Korea. It is hoped Jong-il's successor, Kim Jong-un, will steer the new regime on a less belligerent course. Although there is room for optimism, nations should adopt a cautious outlook.
It seems unlikely that the new regime's stance on international issues, particularly nuclear weapons, will become any less hostile.
Although Jong-il is no longer alive, his influence is widespread around the country. Fear has been bred into North Koreans' hearts over decades of indoctrination as well as the society's embrace of juche, or self-reliance.
North Korea is considered 'the most repressive media environment in the world', according to a Freedom House report last year. The resulting lack of pressure from the people greatly minimises the chances of change in the policies of the new regime.
North Korea's history of erratic behaviour also increases the difficulty of predicting its next move.
Although Jong-il's death may be a chance to usher in reforms, the people, military and government of North Korea are likely to resist change.