October 16, 2021

Despite signs of crisis in North Korean leadership, regime can weather the storm

Kim Jong Un appears to be having serious health problems, but contingency measures ensure the elite can survive a crisis

Beginning from last spring, a number of signs have indicated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is experiencing health problems. The nature of these health issues is unknown, but the reactions of North Korean authorities, as revealed in state media and recent changes to the ruling party’s statutes, suggest they are serious enough to warrant the drafting of contingency measures.

Thanks to North Korea’s top-heavy government structure, the death or long-term incapacitation of Kim Jong Un could trigger turmoil within the country, and the current geopolitical situation in and around the Korean Peninsula means such internal trouble could easily escalate into an international crisis.