For about as long as North Korea has existed, Kim Pyong Il has been considered a possible successor to the throne. And now, with his nephew Kim Jong Un’s health status unclear, his name is being bandied about again.
Kim Pyong Il, 65, is the last known surviving son of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung. After losing out in the 1970s to his half-brother, Kim Jong Il — who ended up running the country from 1994 to 2011 — Kim Pyong Il spent about four decades overseas in diplomatic posts including in Hungary, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic before returning to Pyongyang last year.
Although Kim Pyong Il has been effectively sidelined — he was largely purged from state media and never developed enough power back home to mount a serious challenge for leadership — some North Korea watchers say he could end up taking over from the 36-year-old Kim Jong Un, who hasn’t named a successor. This is mainly because he has Kim blood, and he’s a man.
Published on 01/05/2020