North Korea succession in chaos: Kim Jong-un’s sister WON’T lead says ally – so who will?

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And such as levels of paranoia in the Hermit State that the 32-year-old would emphatically deny any personal ambitions if asked, Alexander Matsegora has said. Kim Yo-jong, who has frequently been pictured at her brother’s side in recent years, is regarded as one of his most trusted advisers and after reports of his death spread like wildfire in April, was held up as a likely candidate to be North Korea’s next leader. However, speaking to Russian state news agency Tass yesterday, Mr Matsegora downplayed the idea.

There is absolutely no reason to say that she is being trained for such a situation

Alexander Matsegora

He said: “There is absolutely no reason to say that she is being trained for such a situation.

“She is a rather young person though she has serious political and foreign policy experience.

“She can be viewed as a well-established high-ranking statesperson. This where I would put a full stop.”

Nevertheless, Mr Matsegora also suggested in practice her role was potentially extremely influential – possibly second only to the Supreme Leader within the current hierarchy.

Current information indicated Kim Yo-jong served as first deputy chief of the department for organisation and instruction of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a key element of the party machine, Mr Matsegora said.

He added: “It’s possible that the leader of the party and the country is the actual head of the department.

“If so, then the department’s first deputy chief holds a rather high position.”

However, even if she was Kim’s de facto deputy, nobody – least of all her – would refer to her as such.

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He explained: “No one dares to call themselves number two in the country.

“I think that if you asked comrade Kim Yo-jong whether she was number two, she would answer with a strong ‘no’.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier this month, Dr James Hoare, said: “We just don’t know how influential she is but she does seem to be playing a high-profile role.

“She has played such a role more or less since her brother came into power.

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“She has clearly emerged and it may indicate that her brother does have health problems.

“She seems to have an awful lot of self-confidence.”

Nevertheless, he suggested the “chauvinistic” nature of North Korean society would make it difficult for her as a female leader, a point previously made by journalist Roy Calley, who has visited the country on several occasions and who wrote a book about his experience, Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World.

He told Express.co.uk: “Women are very much second best in the country.

“Having said that, in Pyongyang a female can become very successful if she is pretty.

“Traffic warden is an extremely important job and the women have total authority when on duty, plus the majority of the tourist guides are women who speak numerous languages fluently.”

Nevertheless, he said: “I don’t see a problem in the sister becoming the new leader, although I’ll be interested to see what she’s going to be called.

“The Kim dynasty is revered, so the fact that she’s female won’t be a problem in my opinion.”

An analysis published by the 38 North website last month suggested Kim Jong-un’s death would trigger a hard-to-control power struggle if the news became public before the totalitarian regime was ready.

The report, written by Chris Steinitz, Ken Gause and Elizabeth Yang, stressed the outcome was hard to predict.

It added: “Whether someone like Kim Yo-jong would sit atop this structure or would assume the role of Supreme Leader is unclear.

“It is also possible that some male member of the Kim family could be put forth as a figurehead for legitimacy purposes, instead of Kim Yo-jong.”

Kim Jong-un became North Korea’s leader in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. Kim Jong-il himself had ruled since 1994, taking over from his father and the founder of the nation Kim Il-sung after his death in 1994.

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