Kim Jong-un's uncle and NOT his sister could succeed him because North Korea will never accept a female leader
While rumors of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death following a botched heart surgery earlier this grow stronger, it is being speculated that his uncle and his father's half-brother, Kim Pyong-il might be next in line to assume the throne.
Although it was earlier reported that Kim's sister Kim Yo-jong is being considered a strong contender for replacing her brother if the latter was to pass away, the return of Pyong-il to North Korea after having spent 30 years overseas as the country's ambassador to Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, has sparked rumors that the position of Jong-un's successor might not be a done deal, the Sun reported. Pyong-il bears a strong resemblance to Kim Jong-un's grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
While Yo-jong has been positioned as her brother's "alter ego" over the last few years and even playing a key role in Jong Un's historic meetings with President Donald Trump, Pyong-il was once considered to rule alongside Jong-un's father Kim Jong-il. He would have been potentially made head of the military while his brother took over the party. However, since he was considered a threat even by his older brother, he was sent away to act as a diplomat.
Before leaving Pyongyang, Pyong-il was quite a popular man in the nation's capital, where he often hosted parties with people chanting his name. Even China — a longtime ally of North Korea — would prefer him over Jong-un's sister, if a regime change was to happen in the country.
The people of North Korea put a lot of weightage on appearance when it comes to choosing their leaders and hence, the 65-year-old's resemblance to Kim Il-sung might just work in his favor when it comes to assuming the throne. On the other hand, some experts believe that the people of the country might be opposed to the idea of having a female leader.
"It's a fascinating development to see Kim Pyong-il re-emerge on the stage," Professor John Blaxland, an expert on North Korea, told ABC. "That certainly will complicate Kim Yo-jong's apparent aspirations, but points to something that was expected: a reluctance of the establishment — military, security leaders and the Kim family — to depart from the patriarchal predisposition."
Dr Malcolm Davis, from Australia's Strategic Policy Institute, also opined: "Kim Yo-jong is clearly likely to claim leadership... but whether the North Korean factions will accept a female leader... is uncertain."
Other experts have disagreed on the fact that sexism may play a role in choosing North Korea's next leader. According to North Korea expert Sean King, Yo-jong was in pole position to replace her brother because the successor simply had to be related to the predecessor by blood.
"She's clearly being groomed for something. If Kim Pyong-il was the man for the job, he'd have likely gotten it previously," King said. As for Kim Jong-un's own children, they are far too young to rule.
Meanwhile, to dispel rumors about the current leader's death, North Korea released a letter claiming that Kim Jong-un had sent a thank you message to builders working in the seaside resort of Wonsan. However, it remains unclear if the letter was actually sent by Kim, as no new pictures of the leader have been released by state media.