October 02, 2022

The Kim Jong Un succession campaign: how the “Young General” took power

The worsening health of his father led to a speedy propaganda effort to anoint the new leader

Ever since Kim Jong Il was anointed Kim Il Sung’s successor - and especially after he inherited power when his father died in 1994 - there was some speculation that this was not the end, and that his son would eventually succeed him. Beginning as a joke in the 1970s and 80s, in the 1990s it became more of a hypothesis, and in the 2000s, specialists and North Koreans themselves talked about it with near certainty.

The problem was which son would be the one to inherit the throne, as the Ever-Victorious Iron-Willed Brilliant Commander had three - Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Chol, and Kim Jong Un. Those who closely monitored the family knew that the first son was nearly certainly out of the question: his aunt Song Hye Rang’s memoirs “Wisteria House” (등나무집), published in 2000, revealed that he was something of an outcast in his family.