Passport

It might not be Kim Jong-un after all

North Korea’s succession drama may not be over after all, the Washington Post reports. Kim Jong-Il had tapped his youngest son, 26-year-old Kim Jong-Un, as his successor early last month. But new South Korean intelligence suggests the decision isn’t final. Without reading too much into it, the announcement raises a handful of questions. One: does ...

584155_090701_Jong-Un5.jpg

North Korea’s succession drama may not be over after all, the Washington Post reports. Kim Jong-Il had tapped his youngest son, 26-year-old Kim Jong-Un, as his successor early last month. But new South Korean intelligence suggests the decision isn’t final.

Without reading too much into it, the announcement raises a handful of questions. One: does this mean UN sanctions are having an effect? Jong-Un’s close association with the North Korean military could be a liability at a time when the regime’s funds have been frozen overseas, and its cargo ships are under surveillance. Picking a less militant leader could prompt the UN Security Council to loosen the sanctions, or lift them entirely.

Two: is Jong-Un too inexperienced to make his own decisions? Some say the elite aren’t won’t relinquish their power to a young whippersnapper without a fight:

The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will be weak, vulnerable and at the mercy of the old guard for years to come under a stage-managed succession taking place in the hermit state.

If Jong-Il is committed to ensuring the survival of his dynasty, he might be compelled now to pick someone stronger than Jong-Un. His other two sons are out of the running, which means he might have to select an extended family member.

Three: has Jong-Il’s brother-in-law become another candidate? It’s believed that Jang Song-Taek, Jong-Il’s second-in-command, enjoys a good deal of influence behind the scenes. Could he be the next man to rule the North? Whether we’re now seeing a coup in progress is unclear, but the possibility is open.

Four: maybe Jong-Il’s health is making a comeback, and the 67-year-old doesn’t see the need to pick a successor just yet. But that’s just speculation.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola