Kim Jong-un's sister 'tyrant in waiting' if illness claims her dictator brother's life
EXCLUSIVE: Kim Yo-jong will be accepted as the next leader of North Korea regardless of her gender, totalitarian regime expert Prof Natasha Lindstaedt has said, because her family are viewed as 'gods' in the country
The sister of North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un is lying in wait to seize power if her sibling dies from the mystery illness which has struck him down.
Kim Yo-jong could be even more ruthless than her brother has been in his eight-year rule, experts warn.
The supreme leader has shown no mercy to dissenters in the world’s most secretive country, including members of his family.
He has also provoked the US and its ally South Korea with missile tests, demonstrating his ability to strike both countries.
And there are fears his sister, who shares his passion for weapons development, could do more of the same to “show her mettle”.
It comes amid growing rumours about Kim Jong-un’s health after his disappearance from public view and claims he suffered a heart attack.
Prof Natasha Lindstaedt, an expert on totalitarian regimes, told the Daily Mirror gender would be no barrier to being accepted by the political old guard as the new “god-like” tyrant-in-chief.
If so she would continue the family’s unbroken grip on the country, started by Kim Il-sung in 1948.
Prof Lindstaedt said: “I don’t believe that her being a woman will weaken her position if she takes over as leader.
“These people are not viewed or portrayed as even being human-like to the people of North Korea – as we have seen with Kim Jong-un.
“They are presented as gods who can make everything better.
“If she became supreme leader the same would apply to her and she would become god-like and every portrayal of her would do the same thing.
“It is possible she will adopt an even harder line than her brother in dealing with the rest of the world because of the level of poverty.
“There is nothing else – it is all they have. I do believe she is as tough as her brother and she has been very visible in recent times.
“Often new leaders feel they must be tougher than the previous one.”
Computer science graduate Ms Kim – is the fifth and youngest child of the late Kim Jong-il, who her brother succeeded as leader.
She has a close bond with her brother and, like him, has enjoyed a life of luxury alien to most of the nation’s impoverished people.
From age nine she was educated in Switzerland where the pair lived together and had a private chef and team of bodyguards.
Ms Kim returned to Pyongyang to go to university before taking her place among the ruling elite.
The first family envoy to visit South Korean capital Seoul, she also joined her power-crazed brother in meeting US president Donald Trump.
She is the most likely heir to the blood-tainted throne, as her brother’s children are too young.
Kim Jong-chul, their elder brother, is seen as a louche playboy with little interest in politics and is not considered leadership material.
Half-brother Kim Jong-nam died in an apparent assassination in 2017 and half-sister Kim Sol-song is not thought to be a contender to take over.
Sung Yoong Lee, an American expert on the Koreas, said recently: “It is entirely possible Ms Kim would be even more tyrannical than her brother, father or grandfather.”
“She will have to show her mettle by provoking the US with major weapons tests and lethal attacks on South Korea and US forces stationed there.”
Seven decades of rule by the Kim dynasty have seen thousands executed and millions dying
Ms Kim has stayed quiet in the face of the regime’s brutality, including the execution of an uncle who was reportedly fed to dogs.
And she has been quick to take enemies to task, branding Seoul “like a frightened dog barking” after a recent South Korea weapons test.
A former British military intelligence officer told the Mirror: “It is likely a family member will take over, to protect the ongoing dynasty.
“North Korea has become more aggressive and unpredictable and it is possible she would carry this on.”
Security on the Korean Peninsula and wider region hangs in the balance over Kim Jong-un’s disappearance.
The three-year war between North and South Korea – which killed five million, including 1,078 British soldiers – halted with a 1953 armistice but never ended.
Kim Jong-un has threatened to nuke both America and South Korea.
But if a more aggressive successor takes over, this could take the Koreas to the brink of war again.
In a nightmare scenario others in the region would be dragged into the conflict, with the Covid-19 pandemic already fuelling tension between America and China.
Within hours of war breaking out across the heavily militarised border the North’s millions of soldiers could smash the South’s defences.
Thirty thousand US soldiers and over three million South Korean troops would mobilise as thousands of Northern artillery guns open fire.
The North’s ballistic missiles would be unleashed as up to two million troops broke through the barbed wire and concrete-walled border, battling the South’s “fighting retreat”.
South Korea’s capital, Seoul, just 50 miles from the border, could be overrun within days – a devastating but temporary victory.
US aircraft carrier strike forces would spring into action, and tens of thousands of marines would bolster South Korea’s forces.
Submarines and warships would pound North Korean positions with waves of missiles. Tactical nukes may even be fired at small areas.
America’s air force would also wreak havoc as Pyongyang struggled to supply its cannon-fodder troops.
The North’s forces would be driven back and the Kim dynasty finally would be brought to a brutal end – potentially at a cost of years of war and millions of lives