Who Is Next In Line for North Korea?

Joshua Collins, Staff Writer

With recent controversy over Kim Jong-un’s current health state, the world is left to wonder who would take over if Kim should pass.

Kim Jong-un, the third and current leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more known in the Western world as North Korea. After being absent from his grandfather’s birthday party in early April, it was discovered by a South Korean newspaper that Kim had gone into surgery. It is speculated, as he has yet to speak for himself, that Kim had complications with the procedure.

Sadly, there is no real answer to the question of who would take over if Kim passed away. There is no plan for any future leaders within the Kim family, as the hereditary monarchy has not outlined such possibilities. There are many possibilities, would his sisters or brothers take over? Would it go to his eight year old daughter? Or would it follow back to his cousins?

The theory with the most traction would be that his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, would take over. She, unlike most of the other members of the family, has a clear role in the North Korean government, appearing with her brother at high-priority events on a normal basis. In one occasion, her horse was outfitted to match her brothers, signifying importance to the country.

Most of the world, though, has come to the consensus that it is unlikely in the views of the North Korean government that a woman will take power, due to the Confucian culture of the country.

Another possibility is a regent be put in place until Kim Jong-un’s eldest daughter, Kim Ju-ae, comes of age, as dictated by the state. This would be a more direct line of succession, but still brings in the possible problem of a woman becoming the leader.

While Kim Jong-un’s older sister and brother are an option, it is unlikely that they will take over. They both have unknown positions of power, and more so are not seen at public events. His nephew, son of his late older brother, is also an option. Though, his whereabouts have been unknown going on three years.

Whether it is Kim Jong-un’s siblings or children, there is one thing to be sure of. After only ruling for nine years, if he has passed, there will surely be a power struggle in the nation. It was already on the brink of having one when Kim took power back in 2011. Is the nation crumbling in on itself? Or is it readying itself for another leader, one we have yet to know about?