North Korea seeks a successor to Kim Jong-un amid fears the tyrant’s health will collapse after his sudden weight loss.
Kim, 37, looked thinner than ever in a baggy gray pinstripe suit last month after losing more than 40 pounds – which sparked speculation about possible gastric banding surgery or serious illness.
Kim Jong-un looks slim in a meeting on July 30thPhoto credit: Reuters
The North Korean dictator before his dramatic weight lossPhoto credit: Reuters
Jo Yong-won is said to have been tasked with finding Kim’s replacementCredit: Credit: Pen News
According to state media, starving North Koreans are increasingly concerned about the health of the “emaciated” Kim after his dramatic weight loss after climbing 22 stones.
And a prominent member of Kim’s entourage has now been tasked with finding a successor for the dictator, amid rumors of his troubled health.
High-ranking party official Jo Yong-won recently assumed a new deputy leadership role and is alleged to find Kim’s successor.
A leading expert on North Korea uncovered the enigmatic figure and branded him as the kingmaker who will prepare the next Kim for the lead.
Michael Madden, who directs North Korea Leadership Watch, a subsidiary of 38 North Watchdog, said, “We can say that Kim Jong-un may set Jo Yong-won as a kingmaker – a person who helps lead and lead guard hereditary successors. “
He added, “You are definitely making this decision with the transition in mind.
“Why? Because air conditioners fall out of buildings, people fall into the shower and get a subdural hematoma and die of severe concussions, and people have heart attacks they didn’t expect.
“So they definitely make such a decision with a view to a possible transition – with an eye that the leader could be irreparably incapacitated or die.”
Madden also pointed to the similar steps Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, had taken towards the end of his life.
“In 2007, his father had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) called a mini-stroke,” Madden said.
“His health became rather precarious and it occurred to him to prepare for hereditary succession.
“So he basically entrusted five or six people whose loyalties and ambitions he didn’t have to question to serve as a proxy.
“And these people have taken on very large, sensitive policy portfolios.
“These are the people who made the transition from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un as effective as it was. They all accompanied Kim Jong-un in those early days.”
You definitely make such a decision with a view to a possible transition – with the view that the leader could be irreparably incapacitated or die.
Rumors of Kim’s illness have emerged thanks to mounting evidence.
The National Intelligence Service said Kim is believed to have struck a whopping 22 stones last year, having won around one stone a year since taking power in 2011.
According to a source, Kim’s cronies said he gained weight from work-related stress, alcohol use, heavy smoking, and a high-fat diet.
At 5 feet 7 inches, Kim was long considered obese after it was revealed he had piled the pounds amid a dire food shortage in his rogue state.
He is struggling with his health due to his increasing weight and lifestyle looting his refrigerator.
Kim has a legendary appetite, apparently filling himself up on Swiss cheese, caviar, and lobster while drinking several bottles of wine in one night.
And last year, he missed North Korea’s national holiday on April 15th and has not been in public for a long time.
Kim did not reappear for several weeks amid wild speculation that he had died.
A new “slim Kim” emerged in June – but commentators have questioned whether his weight loss was intentional or due to a serious illness.
In the past few weeks, he has been spotted with a large greenish spot or bruise on the back of his head that was covered with a bandage in some photos.
However, Madden believes Jo’s appointment doesn’t necessarily indicate any life-threatening health issues.
“There is no one in government or in any official circle who looks at some kind of deathbed or coma scenario to see why this position exists,” he said.
“That’s one of three or four reasons – and it’s not the first or second reason you would be in that position in the regime.”
He added, “What we’re likely to see is that he chose to lose weight on his own because people around the world who are obese are losing weight. It’s better for his cardiovascular system.”
Jo’s promotion may have more to do with creating a scapegoat to blame when North Korea is unable to resolve its crippling food crisis or fight rebellions within the party.
“When you’re a politician and you’re in trouble, you need someone to blame,” Madden said.
“And if the shit hits the fan in North Korea, who will Kim Jong-un blame? The first secretary because that’s his deputy.”
Kim Jong-un looked thinner than ever in a baggy pinstripe suit last monthPhoto credit: Reuters
Kim Jong-un looked slim in a white jacket last weekPhoto credit: Reuters
A bandage was seen on Kim Jong-u’s head, sparking rumors of an operationImage credit: KCNA