North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Will KJI Fade Away after 2012?

KINU (Korean Institute for National Unification) released a report entitled “Study on Unification” that prognosticates Kim Jong-il more or less disappearing from the Pyongyang scene  after 2012.  KINU pronounces, “The possibility of North Korean leader Kim’s absence in the North after 2012 is high.”   The report predicts that General-Secretary Kim will pass away or experience health complications that would prohibit his running the DPRK.

KINU envisions three (3) scenarios that may result from General-Secretary Kim’s “absence”: hereditary succession by Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un; a collective administration by current commanders of the KPA, and; the accession of a KPA strongman.  The latter scenario–the strongman moving to the center of power in North Korea–is predicated on a power struggle.  KINU expects that post-KJI North Korea will “likely undergo upheavals which may include regime change, like a military coup, riot, mass massacre or mass defections.”

This KINU report represents another first for Pyongyang watchers in the last week.  The National Defense Commission waded into the brackish inter-Korean water.   General-Secretary Kim observed drill of North Korea’s three military branches since assuming the Supreme Command of the KPA in December 1991.  And, according to Yonhap (and other observation), this is the first occasion when an ROK  “government think tank mentioned the possibility of upheavals in North Korea.”

I will note that earlier news reports out of The Peninsula had given General-Secretary Kim about five (5) years before health and general fatigue among North Korean elites might set in.


This article was written on 20 Jan 2010, and is filled under contingencies in DPRK, crisis scenarios, Kim Jong-il, leadership succession, PKSO Korea, succession.

An affiliate of 38 North