Who Will Run North Korea After Kim Jong Un

Background Information About North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, is a socialist state located in East Asia sharing a land border with South Korea, China and Russia. North Korea is currently in an era of tension and policy shifts, as the nation is improving its relations with South Korea, and attempting to restore its diplomatic ties with China and the United States. It is an authoritarian state led by a single leader in an absolute fashion, the leader is currently Kim Jong Un. He has been providing guidance for the country for 6 years now, since the sudden passing of his father.

Under Kim Jong Un’s rule, North Korea has started to reform its economy, with the efforts to make use of agricultural resources and gas deposits in order to create jobs, impetus for light industry and foreign investment. In addition, the Government of North Korea has gradually opened the isolated country up to foreign travelers and has worked to legitimize the authoritarian regime.

Kim Jong Un’s Poor Health

Recent reports cite that Kim Jong Un’s health is deteriorating and some speculate that he may have the same life-threatening disease that killed his father, Kim Jong Il – a chronic and hereditary heart condition, among other ailments including gout, high blood pressure and diabetes. Due to Kim’s ill-health, the current government of North Korea has been forced to look for a suitable and competent successor who can take over the rule in a smooth transition and mitigate the concerns over the succession of power in North Korea.

Given the authoritarian single-party state structure, since there is no presidency or state apparatus to hold the reigns of power in the case of a transferral, all the speculation would be focused on only one entity: the ruling party and its leader.

Who Might the Next Leader of North Korea Be?

The logical successor would be Kim Jong Un’s only son, Kim Jong Chul, who is reportedly uninterested in politics and has continually been bypassed by his father as a potential successor. This leaves many people to wonder who will lead North Korea after Kim Jong Un.

One possible successor could be Kim Yo Jong. She is the youngest sister of Kim Jong Un and is the only one who has shown political inclination as well as loyalty towards her brother. Another possible successor could be Choe Ryong Hae, a powerful elderly figure in North Korea and one of the longest serving members of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Kim Yong Nam is another potential candidate as he is the current head of North Korea’s foreign relations. These three individuals have been featured often with Kim Jong Un in the public eye and are loyal to the ruling party and therefore could be in line to take over the rule.

Possibility of an Internal Power Struggle

Some experts also suggest that North Korea may face an internal power struggle in the event of Kim Jong Un passing away as many leaders in the ruling party would hope to be named the successor. This could lead to a chaotic situation and destabilization of the government as this internal struggle for power can cause various regional power centers to appear, further increasing the prospect of complete anarchy.

Moreover, it is possible that the United States and South Korea may impose further sanctions on the new leadership in order to ensure that Kim Jong Un’s successors do not continue his aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons or cause any regional instability. This would increase international pressure and leave the next leader of North Korea in a weak position to lead the country efficiently.

Risk of Chinese Interference

An additional risk is that North Korea could come under the control of its more powerful neighbor, China. As North Korea’s largest ally, China has strong economic and political interests in the region and may seek to capitalize on the potential vacuum created by Kim Jong Un’s passing. China could choose to place one of its loyalists in the North Korean government, increasing Beijing’s control over the North and leaving the successor with limited autonomy over its domestic and foreign policies. This could have serious implications for the future of North Korea.

To prevent a situation such as this, the United States and South Korea must be prepared to intervene if needed and ensure that China does not interfere in North Korean politics. By doing so, they could protect the sovereignty of North Korea and ensure that the transition of power is a smooth one.

Potential Effect on South Korea and the US

If there is a smooth transition of power in North Korea, it could potentially open the door to further diplomatic and economic ties with the United States and South Korea. This could lead to greater regional stability, economic exchange and increased opportunities for progress and development. It would also give the North Korean people more opportunities to engage with the outside world and to participate in the global economy.

On the other hand, if North Korea experiences any political or economic unrest due to a lack of a clear successor, this could lead to a destabilized region and an increase in tensions among North Korea, South Korea and the United States. This could then lead to further isolation and mistrust among all sides, leaving the entire region in an unpredictable and dangerous situation.


In conclusion, the issue of who will run North Korea after Kim Jong Un is an ambiguous and complex matter with many implications for the future of the country, and the region as a whole. It is important that the international community pays attention to the situation and is prepared to intervene if needed. It is also important for the government of North Korea to appoint a suitable and competent successor who can maintain the stability and integrity of the region.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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