Who will be the next ruler of North Korea?


Photo via Kremlin.ru through Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un (left) pictured during a conference.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has held a tight fist over North Korea for over a decade. With his mass arsenal, and ambition, he currently is one of the most powerful and feared rulers in the world. There has recently been speculation over who is to replace him when the time arrives for a new leader. 

Contrary to popular belief, North Korea is not a monarchy. Leaders are supposedly elected through the Congress of the Working Party. However, the Kim family has ruled the isolated nation for almost three decades, so it’s entirely logical that “the hermit kingdom’s” next leader will be a member of the Kim family. 

Currently, Kim is speculated to have three children. His first-born is believed to be a boy, while his second is a girl. The gender of the third remains unknown. So who is to succeed their father as ruler of North Korea? 

The answer may not be who you think. 

Interestingly enough, some experts are now projecting that his daughter might be the one to succeed him. North Korea has never had a female leader, but recently, Kim may be hinting that his successor may make history. Her name? Ju-ae. 

For a majority of her life, Ju-ae has remained out of the spotlight. Even the reveal of her name was accidental. In 2013, after former-NBA star Dennis Rodman visited North Korea, he mistakenly revealed Ju-ae’s identity. Besides being pictured in the arms of Rodman, Ju-ae has rarely been photographed. 

Until now. 

A couple of months ago, multiple images of Ju-ae accompanying her father to a nuclear missile facility were released. Even though her name was leaked years ago, Ju-ae was only referred to in the photos as Mr. Kim’s “most beloved daughter.” 

The next day, North Korean state media revealed that Ju-ae witnessed a nuclear launch with her father, and photos of her walking around the site were released as well. Her appearance with Kim was Ju-ae’s first official public appearance, and many were quick to speculate that perhaps Ju-ae will be the one to replace her father. 

This theory has also been supported by the fact that Ju-ae’s first appearance was at a nuclear missile site, as nuclear weapons have remained an important facet of Kim’s reign. Not long after, Ju-ae was once again pictured in a group photo with missile engineers along with her father. 

“The photos are likely part of a carefully worked out program to show to North Koreans that Kim Ju-ae is going to become ​the ​successor,” said longtime researcher of the Kim family, Cheong Seong-chang, in an article written by The New York Times

Kim’s early move may be to avoid the mistake his father made. Kim il-sung only revealed his successor towards the end of his reign, and once Kim took power after his father’s death, there were many doubts about his ability to lead. Analysts believe that by introducing his possible successor early on, he is giving Ju-ae- as well as North Korea- time to prepare. 

Nonetheless, it does not appear that Kim will be stepping down anytime soon. Until then, the world will continue to speculate over who his successor may be.