by Marissa Chao
There has been recent speculation and unconfirmed reports made that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has possibly died. That, or is gravely ill following a medical heart-related emergency. Unfortunately, Kim’s direct successor, who would be his only son, is barely of elementary school age. The most likely outcome would be for his sister, Kim Yo Jong, to take over his rule.
Some could argue that she might not be supported as a young and female supreme leader in a confucian and male-dominated society. But if she does end up taking charge of his rule, she would most likely keep her brother’s policies of economic liberalization–For example, the US might cut off all private trade/supply between the two countries if they wanted North Korea to stop doing something the US doesn’t like. It’s essentially a way to get a country to back down or stop something without using warfare.
If Kim Yo Jong fails to secure power and prove her leadership, the next likelihood would probably be Vice Marshal, Choe Ryong Hae. Choe is a Politburo (governing body of a communist party) member and vice chairman of the Workers Party of Korea (the ruling political party of North Korea). He also has close relations to Kim’s family. Because he is a potential threat to Kim’s reign, some may conclude that taking over power would be the only way to guarantee his own security. Kim has a past with purging his adversaries such as having his half brother and uncle killed.
The final and most dangerous outcome would be that no one would emerge as Kim’s successor. It would leave the question of who controls North Korea’s nuclear weapons, their biggest threat and leverage on the rest of the world, unclear. Also, there would be multiple leaders fighting for the throne which could lead to possible wars.
Nonetheless, countries need to be wary and prepare for any of these outcomes.