‘Kim Yo-jong could succeed brother as official N. Korean leader’
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Kim Jong-un is “sick” and North Korea has contingency plans in place in the event of a power struggle should the controversial leader die, an intelligence chief has said.
Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (NSB) director-general Chiu Kuo-cheng was remaining mostly tight-lipped when he gave an update during a government meeting on Thursday, reports Taiwan News.
He responded to questions over recent media reports that Kim had possibly died by reportedly claiming simply the leader is “sick”.
When pressed further as to whether Kim is still alive, the intelligence chief laughed and then dodged the question before being asked about possible contingency plans.
Chiu told Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Chiang Chi-chen that he did not want to discuss the situation in North Korea further in public as it risked compromising a source.
He did, however, add that regardless of whether political turbulence rears its head, there would only be a brief period of integration and struggle.
And assured legislatures plans were in place for a potential power struggle if the leader should die, according to reports.
It has been claimed by multiple news outlets the controversial leader is desperately unwell or perhaps dead having undergone heart surgery.
Speculation erupted after Kim missed an annual birthday celebration for his late grandfather – Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder – on April 15.
According to reports yesterday, officials in North Korea have stopped attempting to silence the suggestion that Kim is dead.
Daily NK claims to have spoken to a source-based in the North Hamgyong Province.
They said: “All sorts of rumors are spreading.
“But even though the government is aware of all this, there has been no centralized response to it, either in the form of lectures or otherwise. That’s really strange.”
In the past rumours about the North Korean leader or his family would have provoked a rapid response from authorities.
The source said that the population is “frightened” about even hearing rumors that Kim has died so everyone pretends not to know, but “everyone knows”.
Authorities are also reportedly “hunting down” whoever brought a video into the country’s border region suggesting Kim was dead.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America is monitoring reports about Kim’s health, days after President Donald Trump said the leader is alive.
“We haven’t seen him. We don’t have any information to report today, we’re watching it closely,” Pompeo told Fox News.
Pompeo said the US was also monitoring the situation more broadly in North Korea, which borders China, given the risk presented by the coronavirus.
“There is a real risk that there will be a famine, a food shortage, inside of North Korea too,” he added.
“We’re watching each of those things closely, as they have a real impact on our mission set, which to ultimately denuclearize North Korea.”
North Korea has never announced who would follow Kim in the event he is incapacitated, and with few details known about his young children, analysts say his sister Kim Yo Jong and loyalists could form a regency until a successor is old enough to take over.
Kim Yo Jong was promoted to the head of the propaganda department of the Workers’ Party of Korea in October 2017.
Kim became a leader when his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011 from a heart attack.
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