What Happens if Kim Jong Un is Really Gone?

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What will happen to North Korea if something has happened to Kim Jong Un?

Speculation about Kim Jong Un’s health intensified over the weekend after tantalizing — yet unverified — reports about a visit by a Chinese medical team and movements of the North Korean leader’s armored train.

China sent a team including doctors and senior diplomats to advise its neighbor and longtime ally, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing three people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, a train resembling one long used by North Korean rulers was parked last week near a coastal leadership compound in Wonsan, according to an analysis of satellite imagery released Sunday by the website 38 North. A prominent South Korea adviser also rejected the notion that Kim was ailing or dead.

“Our government position is firm,” Moon Chung-in, a foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told CNN. “He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13” with “no suspicious movements” detected. South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Monday reiterated a government assessment made last week that there has been no unusual movement spotted inside North Korea.

The latest developments shed little immediate light about the 36-year-old ruler, who U.S. officials said they were told had been in critical condition after cardiovascular surgery. Kim — a heavy smoker who has gained considerable weight since taking power in 2011 — hasn’t appeared in state media for two weeks, and missed the April 15 birthday celebrations for his late grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung, for the first time.

State media Rodong Sinmun newspaper’s front page on Monday carried a story of Kim Jong Un expressing “gratitude” toward his construction workers in Wonsan-Kalma, a tourist beach resort zone that the leader has made one of his signature projects. It’s not unusual for state media to report on activities associated with the leader during an absence from the public.

The episode renews longstanding questions about the stability of a regime built on iron-fisted authority and a cult of personality for Kim, who has no known successor. Health scares have been a common occurrence over the years, and the leader’s medical condition is a closely guarded subject in one of the world’s most secretive states.

Any leadership change in North Korea could increase the threat of instability on China’s border and raise questions about control of the country’s expanding nuclear arsenal. Kim has also been central to U.S. President Donald Trump’s so far unsuccessful efforts to get him to reduce his weapons stockpile.

The mystery sent journalists, diplomats and non-proliferation experts scouring satellite images, state news outlets and unverified social media feeds for clues about Kim. The hashtag #kimjongundead was the among the top subjects trending globally Saturday on Twitter. The name of his younger sister Kim Yo Jong — a potential successor — was also trending in the U.S.

Kim similarly disappeared from state media for six weeks in 2014, prompting speculation that he had been sidelined by gout, an ankle injury or was even overthrown in a coup. He subsequently showed up walking with a cane during a visit to a new residential block.

The presence of Kim’s train in Wonsan, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of Pyongyang and the site of a palatial family compound, potentially fits with the South Korean account. Under Kim, Wonsan has seen a building boom for tourism facilities and lodgings for the state’s elite. The area has been a hotbed for missile tests, which are easy for Kim to view when he’s at the family compound.

The train, which Kim took to his failed summit with Trump in Hanoi, arrived at a nearby railway station on or before April 21, 38 North wrote, citing satellite imagery. The train was spotted again at the station on April 23, and appeared to be repositioned for departure.

North Korea’s eastern coast saw a burst of military activity on April 14, including cruise missile tests and fighter jet maneuvers, that at the time appeared to be timed to coincide with South Korean parliamentary elections. The next day, Kim was absent from events marking his grandfather’s birthday, known as the Day of the Sun and North Korea’s most politically significant holiday.

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48 COMMENTS

  1. He’s simply gone Or in hiding from Covid19 or a break from his wife or rocking it out with The Rolling Stones, so Kim Jong Un where you bees?

  2. Not one credible news report on YouTube about this man's death. No wonder since YouTube is an arm of the Chinese Communist party. They only report what China wants them to report.

  3. His death wouldn't necessary mean freedom for those dying from starvation under his regime… but it would be a step closer…

  4. update
    Kim is gravely ill because doctors cannot do a proper blood transfusion . finding cheese whiz in North Korea is impossible thanks to President trumps tariffs 🤪🤪🤪🤣🤣

  5. I bet little fat man is saying the same thing about Trump that the democrats are saying.IT IS TRUMP"S FAULT that i smoked all of those cigarettes and hogged all the food,while at the same time crawling on his fat legs trying to get to his firecracker missiles buttons to push them towards america.lmao.He would take the rest of the North Koreans with him when we put about three or four nukes up his fat ass

  6. Kim Jong-un i give him 4 weeks if he doesn't show up that means either hes dead or hes a vegetable…if he's gone maybe the 25 million people in North Korea will have food to gain 5 more pounds each

  7. (Please don't nuke me if u offend you in any way I dont know much about you) if kim Jon un is tested positive with corona virus and he passes away who will look after north Korea🇰🇷??? We respect you kim jon un. ✌

  8. This is what sucks about being a ruthless dictator and starving your people… Now that he needs one, he can't find a fat body double.

  9. I can't help but wonder, if they do an autopsy, they may find he is filled with cheese. That man loved his cheese. ❤️🧀

  10. Maybe I'm just tired of waiting for the little monster crusher of Korea to appear dead or alive , but all I heard in this interview was blah, blah, blah, "they'll figure it out." Considering that the world is really worried about this perennially threatening nuclear power, interviewee is a $mug Pr!¢k.

  11. What if he is just on lockdown with his family like the rest of the world and doesnt want to contract covid 19?

  12. Dont worry.. his sister is ready for the hermit throne.. she will be the most powerful absolute ruling queen in asian history.. she will be as great or more than wu zetian… she needs to proove the she can rule fairly and justly.. the dynasty needs to be transformed in her hands..

  13. When this guy dies there will be another control freak psychopath ready to exploit the Stockholm nation. China wont let any free Country step in to help build independence so it will continue.

  14. I think a pigs death has more of a value than this piece of shit the only thing we should care about is that to make sure that he’s one hundred percent dead for sure please be gone for sure that cockroach needs to be dead I have more remorse for a cockroach dying than this dirt bag

  15. That country will never be free. And anybody that thinks living there is awesome wake up they have camps and they torture people kids are born into these camps and tortured I would not like to live in a country of fear fuck that pass

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