Kim Jong Un is the supreme leader of North Korea and the third child of his father Kim Jong Il, the late leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Reports about Kim Jong Un’s death began to emerge after his prolonged absence in April 2020, leading to speculation that the North Korean leader had died following a failed purported medical procedure.
In recent years, the DPRK has placed a significant amount of importance in the conception of the cult of personality built around Kim Jong Un. The state media has continuously portrayed the leader as a divine figure and his role in society. This created an image of invincibility and immortality, leading to widespread disbelief of Kim Jong Un’s mortality.
The DPRK government has a history of silence and secrecy when it comes to Kim Jong Un’s health, with his public appearances being limited and carefully scheduled. This only heightened the public interest on the subject.
Data and Facts
Recently, North Korean state-run media reported that Kim Jong Un is alive and well. He was seen attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a fertilizer factory, appearing in public for the first time in weeks. This report was accompanied by pictures and a video, which further dispelled the rumors of his death.
However, due to the lack of checks and balances within the DPRK, there is still some lack of clarity as to what exactly happened during Kim Jong Un’s absence. It has been reported he underwent a cardiovascular procedure intended to improve his health, and was receiving treatment at a villa on the outskirts of Pyongyang.
The North Korean government and its supporters have presented the event as a success, hailing Kim Jong Un’s miraculous recovery and his profound knowledge in medical matters that allegedly enabled him to come out on top.
Perspective from Experts
Expert opinions from around the world regarding the validity of these claims are divided. Experts from within the DPRK have said that Kim Jong Un’s recovery was a result of the work of a special medical team that he personally led, and that the leader is in perfect health and continues to rule with an iron fist.
However, outside experts remain unconvinced, citing North Korea’s lack of transparency over internal matters as a major problem in obtaining a full picture. Some even point out that Kim Jong Un’s surprise reappearance may have been staged in order to quell public fears of his death and to give the impression of a medical miracle.
Others believe that Kim Jong Un might be ill but is lying low until his health improves, or that he is in hiding due to the threat of a power struggle. All of these theories are rampant, but it is hard to come to any concrete conclusions without any evidence.
The implications of Kim Jong Un’s death would be wide-ranging, from the Korean Peninsula to international relations. His death could trigger a power struggle within the North Korean political system, as well as a change in leadership for the DPRK. The implications for South Korea, Japan, China and other countries in the region would be great as the region adjusts its policies to suit the new circumstances.
Given the nature of the DPRK, it is impossible to determine the truthfulness of the reports coming out of the country. The DPRK has long been considered an opaque society which makes any information regarding the country hard to verify, especially in matters related to Kim Jong Un and the North Korean government. Despite this complexity, it is clear that the international community is paying close attention to the situation, as even minor developments cause ripple effects across the world.
Political and Economic Impact
If Kim Jong Un is found to have died, the most immediate political and economic impact would be brought upon the North Korean populace. The country is mired in political, economic and social turmoil, and the sudden disappearance of its leader would be a huge shock to the nation. This could lead to a rise in instability and unrest, as well as economic hardship for the people of the DPRK.
At the same time, Kim Jong Un’s death could also bring about changes in the region. North Korea has an increasingly hostile relationship with South Korea, and Kim Jong Un’s death could lead to an increase in tension between the two countries. Likewise, the death of the leader could lead to changes in the foreign policies of the DPRK, potentially leading to more open relations with the international community and peaceful dialogue.
The DPRK is a heavily sanctioned state, and its relationship with the United Nations and other international organisations could be significantly altered as a result of Kim Jong Un’s death. The United Nations Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions on the North Korean regime, and the death of their leader could be a catalyst for changes in the international community’s approach to the regime.
Given the potential implications of Kim Jong Un’s death, the international community has been paying close attention to the situation. South Korea and other countries in the region would be among the most affected by Kim Jong Un’s death, and these countries are likely to adopt different positions on the matter.
The United States has also taken an interest in the matter, with President Donald Trump expressing his concern at the reports of Kim Jong Un’s deteriorating health. The US has seen a shift in its approach towards the DPRK in recent years, and if Kim Jong Un’s death is confirmed, it will likely lead to further changes in the US-DPRK relationship.
The European Union has also adopted an increasingly tough stance on North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, and Kim Jong Un’s death could lead to an easing of tensions between the two sides. At the same time, the EU is likely to proceed with caution, as it is uncertain how the leadership transition in the DPRK will affect its policy towards the country.
Other Asian Nations
Other Asian nations have also expressed concern at the reports of Kim Jong Un’s health, as the stability of the region is highly dependent on the situation in North Korea. China and Russia both possess strong economic ties to the DPRK, and the death of Kim Jong Un would likely lead to changes in their diplomatic relations with the country.
Japan has historically had a tense relationship with North Korea, and the situation is likely to worsen if Kim Jong Un’s death is confirmed. The death of the leader could trigger an increase in military and economic tensions between the two countries, as Tokyo seeks to protect its strategic interests in the region.
Finally, India is another key player in the region which has expressed its concern over the situation in North Korea, as the country has strong economic and military ties to the DPRK. India is likely to adhere to the international community’s stance on the matter, and could even take a more proactive role in international negotiations over the future of the country.
The Possibility of Succession
Given the lack of clarity surrounding Kim Jong Un’s death, it is difficult to know who would succeed him. North Korean state media recently reported that Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jung was appointed to a top military post, leading some to speculate that she could be the leader’s chosen successor.
Others argue that a likely successor could be a member of the military, given their long-standing influence within the DPRK’s political system. It is also possible that an outside figure could take control of the nation, as North Korea has recently welcomed financial investment from foreign countries.
Regardless of who succeeds Kim Jong Un, the world will be watching as the situation unfolds in North Korea. The country’s future is unknown, but it is certain that the death of Kim Jong Un will have a major impact on the region and the international community.