Fear and uncertainty grew in political circles around the world after reports suggested that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is in ‘grave danger’ following heart surgery. Not just the surgery, speculations over Kim’s deteriorating health has been flying for months owing to his heavy smoking, obesity, and workload. Also Read - North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in Critical Condition After Heart Surgery, Say Reports; South Korea Denies
Well, given the present circumstances, what would happen if Kim succumbs to his illness? Who would then take over as North Korea’s leader?
Thought nothing is clear as of now, all eyes are on Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, who has been slowly rising in ranks beside him.
According to analyst Cheong Seong-Chang, Kim Yo-jong, is already exercising significant influence within the government. More so, most members of Pyongyang’s leadership share an interest with the Kim family in maintaining the North’s system, so, she is seen as a strong contender for the post.
Who is Kim Yo-jong?
The youngest of seven siblings, Kim Yo-jong was born in 1987, and first came into the limelight during the funeral for her father Kim Jong Il in 2011. Since then, she has taken on many state responsibilities, and is now considered as the most powerful woman in North Korea.
Last month, she made her first public statement, condemning the South as a “frightened dog barking” after Seoul protested against a live-fire military exercise by the North.
It is said that the Kim Jong-un and his sister have a close bond, as a result of their years studying in isolation together in Switzerland from 1996 to 2000. She is also a trusted advisor to Kim Jong-Un, and in 2018, was nominated to North Korea’s Politburo. In 2014, she had briefly taken over state duties when Kim Jong-un was undergoing medical treatment.
In addition, she is the person rumoured to be behind creating her big brother’s public image, modeling him after that of their grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea.
However, given that North Korea is very traditional, experts believe that it will be hard for citizens to accept a woman as the supreme leader. We will have to wait and watch!