Posted May 2, 2020 10:29 am by

Why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health matters

After weeks of rumours that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was seriously ill or even dead, state media published photos showing him in public © KCNA VIA KNS/AFP / STR

Seoul, Korea, Republic of, May 2 – Nearly three weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s no-show at a key event sparked rumours he was seriously ill or even dead, state media published photos Saturday showing him in public.

Kim’s conspicuous absence from the April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather, the North’s founder, sparked feverish speculation over his health and who would replace him at the helm of the nuclear-armed country.

It is not the first time Kim has disappeared from public view. In 2014, he dropped out of sight for nearly six weeks before reappearing with a cane. Days later, South Korea’s spy agency said he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.

Here is a look at why Kim’s health has been the subject of so much conjecture.

– Who is his successor? –

Kim has been in power for nearly a decade and his death would have left Pyongyang facing an unplanned succession for the first time in its history.

Leadership has always been a family affair in the isolated North, dominated by the members of the “Paektu bloodline” — a Northern term for the country’s founder Kim Il Sung and his descendants.

Kim’s three known children are still very young and there is no designated successor as far as the world is aware.

His younger sister Yo Jong — one of his closest advisers — is widely regarded as the top contender to succeed him but the North is a highly patriarchal society where seniority and gender both carry weight.

– What happens to nuclear talks? –

Kim is known in the North as the Supreme Leader and his authority spans the ruling Workers’ Party and the military. All major decisions require his approval.

Kim’s disappearance from public view came as Pyongyang’s talks with Washington over the North’s nuclear arsenal are at a standstill, despite three meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

If Kim were incapacitated or dead, it would have increased uncertainty over the process.

The worst scenarios, according to some analysts, would involve power struggles and refugee flows to China.

Kim is also obese and both his father and grandfather are believed to have died of heart diseases.

“Kim’s personal profile, family history, and the Read More…Why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health matters  Why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health matters  Why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health matters  Why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health matters