Kim Jong Un’s uncle Kim Pyong Il could be the next in line to claim the throne in North Korea after the supreme leader. So far, the media has been long speculating that Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, may take over his responsibilities under unforeseen circumstances.

Kim Pyong Il returned to North Korea in 2019 after having spent over 40 years as a diplomat in several European countries, including Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Kim Pyong Il is known to be the last known kin of Hermit Kingdom’s founder, Kim II Sung.

It was Kim II Sung’s birthday is commemorated each year as Founder’s Day in North Korea. It was the same event this year on April 15th that Kim Yo Jong missed, raising speculations that he is in trouble due to his health.

Later, reports revealed that he has a cardiovascular surgery and is recuperating after that. Many unverified reports have come since then claiming that Kim Yo Jong is not in a good condition and the procedure has left him in a vegetative state and probably, brain dead.

Recently, a few satellite images released by a North Korean website showed Kim Yo Jong’s signature train parked at a station in Wonsan on the country’s eastern coast. He is said to be recovering there after the surgery but the information has not yet been officially released.

Kim Pyong Il was superseded by his half-brother Kim Jong II in 1994 as he took over the reign until 2011. The responsibilities were then passed on to his son, Kim Jong Un.

A few officials in North Korea believe that Kim Pyong Il could be apprehensive about Kim Yo Jong taking over the command of the country especially due to it being a male-dominated society.

“The problem is that a Kim Yo Jong-led North Korea is unlikely to be sustainable,” said Thae Yong Ho, who used to be North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK. “To avoid this, some in the leadership would try to bring back Kim Pyong Il, who’s now under house arrest, to the center of the power.”

However, many believe that Kim Pyong Il does not stand a chance. A former US-based North Korea analyst said that he neither seems to have the support required to be the next supreme leader, not the connections. Kim Yo Jong, on the other hand, seems to have a status already and the connection that supersedes her gender in this matter.

Kim Jong-un, The leader of North Korea. Image Reuters