Here We Go Again: Concern grows Over Kim Jong Un’s Health.

Speculation on the wellbeing of North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un resurfaced over the weekend, prompting a renewed death watch on Kim, and concerns that a power transition could be in the works. It began with reports from South Korean intelligence last week that Kim Jong Un had delegated some power and authority to his sister Kim Yo Jong.  The reports strengthened the notion that Un’s sister is being groomed to succeed him at some point by the end of the year. Then over the weekend Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung made the bold allegation that Kim is in a coma and his sister is in fact preparing to take full control of the government. Chang claims that a full succession of power has not yet been completed and Kim Yo Jong is being positioned to prevent a vacuum from forming when Kim Jong Un finally expires.

Back in April Kim’s health condition was in question following an extended period of him not being seen in public. In the absence of hard information speculation soared. Rumors of Kim having suffered a heart attack, stroke, or even COVID popped up daily from many ‘reliable sources.’ There was even concern he had died, leaving North Korea rudderless. Finally, Kim was seen in public, speculation disappeared, and the world moved on.

A few months later and here we are again. On the verge of another episode of North Korean Soap Opera.

To be fair, there is something going on in the North. The problem is that when it comes to North Korea’s internal politics there are very few analysts, and experts able to accurately read the tea leaves.

Kim Jong Un Health Concerns Revive Concerns of A North Korean Collapse Scenario.

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In the last 24 hours conflicting reports have emerged concerning the health of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. Sources in the US government have stated that US intelligence received word that Kim Jong Un was in ‘grave condition’ following cardio-vascular surgery. As a result, the United States is closely monitoring reports on Kim’s health, and simultaneously reassessing the overall current picture in that part of the world. South Korea, on the other hand, has reported no unusual signs regarding Kim’s health. Seoul has been unable to confirm Kim’s alleged poor health.

In time, the correct status of Kim Jong Un’s health will become known. If he turns up on television looking healthy and vibrant at some point in the coming days, the US claim was obviously a false alarm. However, if the opposite holds true and Kim is either clinging to life, or is already dead, the world will once again be faced with the prospect of a North Korean collapse. At first glance, the prospect of the North Korean regime collapsing might seem promising. It is not. If Kim dies, then a vacuum develops in Pyongyang. This could touch off fighting between various factions of the North Korean regime, and its military, as they fight for the crown. China, South Korea, and the United States all have a stake North Korea’s future too, for competing reasons in most cases. The possibility of one, or more of these nations’ militaries intervening in some way is not outside the realm of responsibility. That is the point when things would really start to go south, no pun intended.

Then there is the wildcard in any potential post-Kim North Korea: whoever controls the nation’s weapons of mass destruction. The North has chemical, and nuclear weapons, along with the platforms to deliver those weapons at least as far as Guam, and possibly all the way to the west coast of the United States. If it appears as if the weapons of mass destruction are not under the control of a stable faction, or political official, the US, China, or South Korea may feel compelled to secure, or destroy those weapons.

In short, the death of Kim Jong Un is something which nobody in Washington, Beijing, or Seoul is rooting for. Yet until the truth about Kim’s health is revealed, there will be speculation, and preparation aplenty taking place in these capitals, and around the region.