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Understanding Kim Jong-un, N. Korea's Kim Dynasty in light of Kim's absence Updated: 2020-05-01 16:14:50 KST

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hasn't been seen in publicly since April 11th - it's been about three weeks and new rumors about the mysterious leader pour in daily.
The North Korean leader is dead. Or he's very ill. Or maybe he's just recuperating in his luxury compound, or isolating himself from the coronavirus. The truth is nobody knows for sure OR maybe they do.

This is U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday afternoon.

"With Kim Jong Un, I can't tell you exactly. Yes, I do have a very good idea but I can't talk about it now. I just wish him well. I've had a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un, If I weren't president, you'd be in war. You would have been in war with Korea, you would have been in war with North Korea if I wasn't president. That I can tell you, he expected that. That I can tell you. II hope he's fine. I do know how he's doing, relatively speaking. We will see - you'll probably be hearing in the not too distant future."

As speculation about his health builds, an underlying question looms for professional spies, policymakers, academics and curious news consumers alike.
What do we really know about the man who leads North Korea?
Who is Kim Jong-un, where could he be, who would, even if not now, but eventually succeed him?
It's the topic of our New In-Depth with go to North Korea experts - to my right, Go Myong-hyun, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and to my left Bernard Seliger, resident representative at Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Great to see you both back on our program.

Three weeks since last seen in public eye, there are still conflicting reports about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's whereabouts and howabouts. That's probably because despite these rampant rumors, North Korea hasn't released a single photo of him. What are your thoughts? Is it heart surgery or precautionary measures against covid?

Satellite imagery showing recent movements of luxury boats often used by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his entourage near Wonsan provide further indications he's been at the coastal resort.
Tell us about this location, Wonsan. What significance does this place hold for Kim Jong-un?

U.S. President Trump said he had a "very good idea" of Kim Jong-un's health status and that people would hear about it "in the not-too-distant future."

The conspicuous absence of North Korea's third-generation leader, Kim Jong-un, has ignited fresh debate over a question that's all but unmentionable inside the regime up North: Who could replace him?
His powerful and by now pretty well-known sister, Kim Yo-jong's name has been making headlines.
Kim Pyong-il is another name we've been hearing. Although never confirmed, there are intel that Kim Jong-un has three children, but they're much too young.
What are your thoughts?

Would a state like North Korea have a contingency plan in place under normal circumstances? In other words, do you think Kim Jong-un had a just-in-case contingency plan?

Kim Yo-jong could take charge in Kim Jong-un's temporary absence but there are concerns that she may be too inexperienced to govern the state. We remember the same concerns arose about Kim Jong-un in 2011 when he suddenly succeeded his father before he ultimately consolidated power.
Do you fear chaos in the North if ever Kim Yo-jong is put in the position?

How big of a concern is a sudden absence of leadership in a nuclear-armed state?
How should South Korea and the U.S. prepare for such a possibility?

Go Myoung-hyun, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and to my left Bernard Seliger, resident representative at Hanns Seidel Foundation, great discussion, as always.
Thank you, both. We appreciate your insights.

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