WTF is going on with Kim Jong Un and his sister? Is he alive?
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about the possible demise of North Korean leader Kim Jon-un. Grandson of the DPRK’s revered first leader Kim Il-sun and the son of its supreme general Kim Jon-Il, Kim Jon-un has appeared less in the public sphere, causing people in Far East political circles to speculate his health is failing.
Four hours ago, a South Korean diplomat concluded that Kim Jon-un was in a coma, days after his sister, Kim Yo-jong, was awarded more responsibility. What does this mean for the Hermit Kingdom, and relations with the rest of the Far East?
Who is Kim Yo-jong?
Like the rest of the Kims, the youngest of Kim Jong-Il’s children is a mystery. Her age isn’t even known, but it’s believed she’s in her early 30s. Her brother is believed to be around 36.
Kim Yo-jong isn’t the only Kim sibling. One brother has no interest in politics and the other is living in exile in Eastern Europe. Of Kim Jong-Il’s children, only Kim Jon-un and Kim Yo-jong remain in line for the kingdom.
Kim Jo-Yong plays hardball
Believe it or not, Kim Yo-jong is the more ruthless sibling. She serves as her brother’s chief advisor on national security. She called the President of South Korea a “frightened dog” and “mentally incompetent” for siding with the U.S., accusing him of putting his country’s “head in the noose of United States flunkyism.”
Kim Yo-jong also made good on some threats she made. She destroyed the Inter-Korean Liaison Office after South Korea sent anti-North Korea propaganda in balloons across the border. She also allegedly planned to move troops to previously demilitarized zones in retaliation to South Korean actions until Kim Jong-un stopped it.
Kim Yo-jong’s leadership
This also isn’t the first time Kim Yo-jong served as North Korea’s de-facto leader. She became the face of North Korea when her brother became ill last spring, serving as the country’s spokesperson until he was well enough to appear in public again.
Most likely, Kim Yo-jong will show her new leadership with a display of force. Experts believe she will either make the Hermit Kingdom more repressive or demonstrate the test of another nuclear missile if she ever leads North Korea.
Some skeptics wonder if she will actually become the new leader of North Korea. In its patriarchal culture, a woman leader may not be accepted by the DPRK’s top generals. However, since she is one of the Kims, if Kim Jon-un dies, it won’t be a surprising move to pass the torch to her.
What makes experts so sure that Kim Jong-un’s health is failing?
They don’t call North Korea the Hermit Kingdom for nothing. Experts speculate that Kim Jon-un is in failing health because he hasn’t made an appearance in several days. Also, since last winter, his sister has been given increasing responsibility.
Kim Yo-jong also made more public appearances, standing at her brother’s side during a summit between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, China’s President Xi Jinping, and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Could Kim Jon-un already be dead?
Unlikely, but not impossible. However, his sister is serving as his second-in-command and is responsible for North Korea’s relations with South Korea and the U.S. Kim Jon-un hasn’t even named her as his successor.
If North Korea is hiding Kim Jong-un’s death, it’s unusual that they’re keeping it quiet. Kim Jon-Il received a widely televised state funeral with mourners from across the DPRK pouring in. If they’re keeping Kim Jong-un’s death a secret, perhaps it’s because they’re still choosing his successor.
It’s possible that Kim Yo-jong could serve as a regent until Kim Jong-un’s children are old enough to ascend to leadership. However, not much is known about his children or their ages except that they’re much too young to rule.