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For much of the last two months it was believed that North Korea’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong-un was dead. The dictator, who vanished without any explanation from authorities, had not been seen in public for three weeks each of the two times he disappeared. Many believed the Kim ruler had died during “botched” heart surgery, and others suspected he was either “brain dead” or “gravely ill”. During this time, the world’s eyes fixated on his sister Kim Yo-jong who made a series of statements on the behalf of the absent leader – who was tipped as the future head of the hermit state. Kim Jong-un resurfaced on Sunday for a nuclear capabilities meeting but many now wonder what could happen in the event of his demise. Chris Mikul, who has studied North Korea for years, gave his theories on what could happen after Kim Jong-un’s death.
One likely successor to the North Korean dynasty is Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, who has been acting on his behalf, in a move unprecedented in hermit state history.
But Mr Mikul, who penned ‘My Favourite Dictators’ in 2019, told Express.co.uk that the likelihood of a female leader is slim.
In a blogpost for Headpress, he wrote: “She is often seen in public with him and was by his side during his two summit meetings with Donald Trump.
“The problem with this scenario is that North Korea is such a patriarchal society, suddenly installing a woman as supreme leader could be a leap too far.”
A second suggestion is that one of Kim Jong-un’s own children could rise to power – despite very little being known about them.
Mr Mikul admitted this theory would be “consistent with dynastic logic of North Korea” but without information about their sex or age it would be hard to predict.
Not even the exact number of Kim Jong-un’s offspring is known, but some reports claim there are three.
Mr Mukul added: “If this proposed successor is too young to take charge yet, a ‘prince regent’ could be appointed to run the country until the next Kim off the production line is ready to take over.”
A third possible outcome could see North Korea’s “upper echelons” fight to seize power and the ensuing “chaos” could lead to the undoing of the nation.
Mr Mikul added: “That would almost certainly have led to food shortages, and hundreds of thousands of North Koreans pouring across the border into South Korea, China and other countries.
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“And whoever eventually gained power would still have had that nuclear button close at hand. Kim Jong-un is at least a known quantity and hasn’t yet shown any great enthusiasm to press it.”
Another potentially disastrous outcome could see the regime fall entirely and lead to horrifying repercussions once the citizens realise the truth about life outside of their heavily censored state.
Mr Mikul told Express.co.uk: “I don’t think it will end any time soon but when it does fall it could be disastrous.
“The country will suddenly open up, allowing the populace to be exposed to the truth and they will realise that they have been living in a ‘Wizard of Oz’ situation.
“I think it will be a nightmare for a lot of people, there could be a lot of suicides because of the devastation from finally seeing reality for the first time.”
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