Among the many pontificating pundit pieces devoted to looking into North Korea's future without Kim Jong-Il, new analysis from Reuters offers a uniquely newsy take on the issue. Bill Tarrant and Raju Gopalakrishnan reveal one frightening possibility of the country collapsing, and China swooping in to claim the spoils: "the risk of collapse is higher than before and regional powers need to start discussing that contingency with China, diplomats and analysts say. The problem is China refuses to contemplate any unraveling of North Korea which has nuclear ambitions and is its long-term ally. Beijing has rebuffed such overtures from the United States, Japan and South Korea." Most experts doubt that China's holding any secret talks or preparing for an invasion, but at least one academic told Reuters, "Secret talks with China to plan for contingencies have long been overdue." What we can assume is that the possibility of tensions in the region heating up is very real. Then again, we don't really know, because the frightening reality is that we don't really know very much about North Korea's present situation, much less its future.