Kim Jong-un’s wife and sister are quietly locked in a ‘power struggle’ to succeed the North Korean leader, analysts have claimed.
The tyrant has ruled for 11 years now – and both his predecessors, his father and grandfather, ruled until they died.
Kim Yo-jong, the dictator’s younger sibling, has had a public presence since 2014, prompting speculation that she could be poised to take the reins.
While for a time, she didn’t exist – let alone have a name other than ‘most beloved daughter’ – but Kim Ju-ae was revealed to the world last November.
Jong-un’s daughter making her first public appearance and many more since has sparked speculation she instead could succeed her father, rather than his sister.
Yo-yong, a top official at the Propaganda and Agitation Department, was even cropped out of footage of Jong-Un and his daughter at a recent football match.
Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute said Kim’s daughter suggests a ‘power struggle’ between the leader’s sister and the First Lady, Ri Sol-ju.
Writing in the South Korean magazine Sisa Journal, he said it was like ‘Ri Sol-ju warning Kim Yo-jong, “the succession of power does not go to you, but to our children, so never look at it”.’
Cheong added that this was ‘overly speculative’, however.
But North Korea expert Michael Madden said: ‘It is not as outlandish as previous rumours about North Korea’s core elite.’
He said: ‘The regime has ideological slogans about “single-hearted unity” and we see these people attend public events together like the recent parade.
‘But it does not necessarily mean they like each other or that they are even cordial in their interactions.
‘Fraught relationships and tension can thrive among a self-selected and isolated group.’
North Korea is not a monarchy – its leaders are voted by the ruling Workers’ Party congress. At least, that’s how it’s meant to go.
Yet the Kims have been running the show since World War Two.
‘One reason that we might be seeing Kim Ju-ae is because her mother feels it necessary to raise the succession claim of one of her children now,’ Madden said.
‘Both Madame Ri and Kim Yo-jong have children who can claim the Paektusan revolutionary lineage of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.’
Jong-un was allegedly picked to be his father’s successor when he was only eight years old.
‘So it would not be premature’ for him to have already picked his daughter, believed to be aged between nine and 11, to follow him, Madden said.
‘As we have seen with the Windsors,’ he added, ‘it will be kept in the family.’
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