Death of 'monstrous killer' may not help N.Korea: British press

LONDON - Hopes for transformation in North Korea following the death of "monstrous" leader Kim Jong-Il remain remote, with China being the impoverished nation's best hope for delivering stability, Britain's press said Tuesday.

North Korea on Monday hailed Kim Jong-un, son of the "dear leader", as the "great successor" at the helm of the famine-ravaged nuclear state.

The Times editorial said there was "nothing commonplace about the life and crimes of a man who ranks among the most monstrous killers in history," despite him being a "faintly ridiculous, Chaplinesque dictator."

The broadsheet urged China to use "what leverage it can" on the isolated nation's new rulers.

"There is little other chance of easing and eventually dispelling a people's long, apocalyptic nightmare," it argued.

Fellow broadsheet The Daily Telegraph was also pessimistic about imminent change, particularly after it was reported that Pyongyang test-fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday.

"Kim-dread spirit," splashed the Telegraph above its editorial.

The missile tests proved that the new regime was "evidently intent on demonstrating that the bellicose isolationism of the 'dear leader' had not died with him," reasoned the paper.

"The prospect of an immediate transformation in this bizarre country is remote," it added.

The Guardian said it remained to be seen whether the "cosseted Swiss educated youngest son has got his dad's instincts for survival."

It also suggested that the road to peace could be better served through a "ruthless leader" rather than "stumbling towards the next hairy incident with the nuclear state."

The Times cartoon struck a characteristically irreverent tone.

In it, a grand headstone for the "dear leader" is inscribed with the epitaph "I told you I was Ill", in reference to the words found on the grave of The Goon Show comedian Spike Milligan.