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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Kim Jong Un’s Potential Successors Include Powerful Sister Kim Yo Jong

 Kim Yo Jong

With North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly in grave condition after surgery, questions are swirling over who would replace the reclusive dictator since he has no named successor or heir apparent.

The Kim family has ruled the secretive Communist country for the past seven decades — with Kim taking over from his father, Kim Jong Il, after his death in 2011.

Power has traditionally passed through male heirs, but the 36-year-old despot has no male adult children — leaving Kim’s brother and sister as the most obvious choices to replace him as ruler, according to various reports.

His sister Kim Yo Jong is a senior member of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and is considered the most powerful woman in North Korea, according to a 2019 National Interest investigation.

She has served as chief of staff and confidant of sorts to her older brother and has been protective of his image in her role as a director of the country’s propaganda department, according to the report.

But North Korean politics is patriarchal and it’s unlikely a woman will be made leader, however powerful she is. Kim’s wife, a former cheerleader and singer, also exercises no political power, the report said.

This leaves Kim’s older brother, Kim Jong Chol, who was already passed over by their father when he was considering a successor.

Kim Jong Chol

Kim Jong Un has taken steps to consolidate his power since ascending the throne nine years ago, ordering the execution of his powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek and his entire family in 2013 over charges of treachery.

Kim also reportedly ordered the 2017 murder of his half-brother Kim Jong Nam, who died after a nerve-agent attack by two female assassins in a Kuala Lumpur airport.

But the dictator apparently doesn’t consider his brother a threat, possibly due to the fact he has no interest in succeeding him as supreme leader.

According to a report by the UK Independent, Kim Jong Chol is more interested in staying out of the spotlight and was once described by an alleged former employee as too “girlish” to lead.

He was last spotted at an Eric Clapton concert in London in 2015 and likes to play the guitar, the report said.

If Kim dies unexpectedly due to medical complications, this could result in the end of the family’s 72-year rule, according to academics.

Dr. Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at nonpartisan think tank Rand Corporation, has warned a North Korean collapse may be on the horizon.

Kim Jong Un

“There is a reasonable probability that North Korean totalitarianism will end in the foreseeable future, with the very strong likelihood that this end will be accompanied by considerable violence and upheaval,” Bennett wrote in a 2013 paper.

According to both the Independent and National Interest, the country’s military leaders may try to stage a grab for power without a named successor, leading to fears of a humanitarian crisis.

“The collapse of the government could spell disaster for China and the ROK [South Korea] in terms of refugees, economic demands, stabilization difficulties, and North Korean revenge,” Bennett continued.

“China and the ROK might favor the current North Korean system over facing these overwhelming problems,” he warned.

According to reports, the United States has contingency plans in place in the event of a mass-scale humanitarian crisis.

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