Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong solidifying 'position of ultimate power', may displace him as leader: Expert
As per the expert, 'It's always difficult to know how things work in Pyongyang, but experience suggests that the soft approach from the Supreme Leader no longer has favor'
Amid Noth Korean leader Kim Jong-un's mysterious absence from public life, his sister, Kim Yo-jong, is "solidifying" her position as her brother's second-in-command to reportedly move "to a position of ultimate power," replacing her brother.
Recently it was reported that the 32-year-old attended a crucial political meeting on July 2 where she suggested that another summit meeting with President Donald Trump was "unpractical" and would "not serve us at all." “But also, you never know. That’s because a surprise thing may still happen, depending upon the judgment and decision between the two top leaders,” Yo-jong said in a statement, adding that such future meetings were unlikely to happen unless "major changes" were introduced by the US in its "attitude" which ended its "hostile policy."
Roy Calley, a frequent visitor to the Hermit Kingdom, who recounted his experiences in the book 'Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World,' said that Yo-jong was gradually edging her way to replacing her brother. "This suggests to me that she is being moved to a position of ultimate power," he told Express. "It's always difficult to know how things work in Pyongyang, but experience suggests that the soft approach from the Supreme Leader no longer has favor. Her stance is hard-line and you could never imagine her having a cozy chat with Trump."
Calley added that like many who the speculated whether the supreme leader of North Korea was alive or not, he also questioned the same. And even if he was alive, he might be gravely ill. "It's possible that Kim Jong-un is struggling with health - if he is still alive, which I still question - and she is edging closer to ultimate power. These things happen in North Korea for a reason. There is never an accidental way of government," he said.
However, Professor James Hoare of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said that Jong-un's sister's statement at the meeting might not necessarily mean that the country was preparing for a new leader. "It has not been unusual for important statements to come from sources other than the top person," he said. "Senior Party and government leaders often do so, while others come from the MFA, Party or organizational spokesmen. The KCNA news agency often carries authorized statements. Under Kim Il-sung, first his brother and later Kim Jong-il often spoke in the leader's name."
Nevertheless, Hoare added that there was no question regarding the influence held by Yo-jong when it comes to important decision-making. In recent weeks, she has been frequently touted as a possible successor. "Ms. Kim is certainly active and it may be that she is staking out a position. If there is a debate, perhaps Kim Jong-un is waiting to see what happens and is happy to let her front one side. To me, the statement was tough but closed no doors - a useful position," he said.
Kim Jong-un has been North Korea's leader since 2011 when he took over from his father Kim Jong-il. The first wave of reports claiming the North Korean supremo's physical decline or death came after Kim failed to attend celebrations marking the birth of his grandfather Kim Il-sung on April 15. Some reports claimed he died after a botched heart operation after suffering a heart attack while on a walk.
But Kim Jong-un finally showed up on May 1, after an absence of 20 days, to inaugurate a newly commissioned fertilizer plant before going missing once again. He was next seen in pictures from a June 7 meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Kim then receded from public view for almost a month after eventually making an appearance at a government coronavirus meeting on July 2.
That said, the North Korean leader has since been spotted alive and well. Kim reappeared on July 8 to visit his grandfather's memorial site amid fresh speculation about his health. Visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the dictator paid his respects to Kim Il-sung, his grandfather and founding ruler of the Hermit Kingdom, on the anniversary of his death.