Charlotte, N.C. – On Tuesday, CNN reported that US intelligence was monitoring reports surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Initial reports were that the leader was in “grave danger” after a heart procedure. Concerns were raised after he missed a celebration he would normally attend.
The Daily NK, a South Korean news outlet that focuses on North Korea, reports that Un had surgery on April 12. In the article, it highlights Un’s smoking and obesity as potential causes for his heart condition that led to surgery. Initial reports were that he was recovering just outside of Pyongyang.
Now, Japanese media reports that Un is in a vegetative state following the surgery. This story gives more details highlighting that Un had collapsed clutching his chest during a recent tour. The event required a stent to be placed, but apparently there were complications.
The outlet reports that a Chinese medical team has been dispatched to tend to Un. More details will most likely come out of this in the coming days.
Now the question is, what happens in North Korea? His sister, Kim Yo-jong, would most likely replace him as leader since his children are not old enough to lead. She has been thought to be the brains behind the Kim administration for some time.
She has openly been critical of South Korea. But she has also been quick to praise President Trump. She has been involved in multiple high stakes negotiations and diplomatic missions. She was recently promoted to the number two position in the country.
So it would seems she would easily assume the role. She also has the right connections to be a powerful dictator. Her husband is Choe Song, the son of the top North Korean military official.
Up until recently, many thought that she would never assume the role. The Washington Post even mentions this in an article from 2018 about her. But now, she seems the logical replacement for her brother.
How would she rule?
According to reports, she is feared and respected inside of North Korea. She has a strong relationship with many world leaders, including President Donald Trump. She was an important part of the previous nuclear negotiations. But she did not give up any ground as part of those.
There’s no reason to think that she would be any different based on the information that is currently available, but there is always speculation. She could be a welcome change across many international relationships.
Due to her relationship with President Trump, her assuming the leadership role could be a key change in negotiations. I would imagine Trump would transition to working with her quickly if she assumes the role. Japan would also welcome such a change.
She has also had a relationship with the South Korean leader as well. While she has spoken out against South Korea, she may present an opportunity for a resolution among the broken countries.
Finally, she will most likely play an important role with China and Russia. Both have long been powerful allies that have protected North Korea. If she transitions the stance of North Korea into a more internationally friendly role, this could be an issue for China.