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North Korea’s Supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, has reportedly passed a range of considerable powers onto his sister, Kim Yo-jong. While some other responsibilities have been passed down to his aides, Yo-jong will now head Pyongyang’s policy towards the US and South Korea. The reports came from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service spy agency as it said that Kim still maintains “absolute authority” but has handed various policy areas to others to reduce his stress levels.
He is now “steering overall state affairs”, the agency added.
It was quick to dispel any myths over the leader’s health.
It is important to note that the National Intelligence Service has, in the past, got things wrong.
The claims were reportedly made during a closed-door briefing on Thursday to South Korea’s National Assembly, with lawmakers then discussing the assessment with journalists.
The agency was quoted as saying: “Kim Jong-un is still maintaining his absolute authority, but some of it has been handed over little by little.”
North Korea now appears to be resembling a sibling dictatorship, where its main political goal is the unification of the entire Korean peninsula under the Kim family’s control – so important a point that it is written into the North’s constitution.
However, as Yochi Dreazen in his 2018 Vox report on the issue of dealing with North Korea noted, that goal in particular is impossible while US troops occupy militarised zones of the South.
Further to this is the fact that “Washington is formally committed to going to war on the South’s behalf” should the North ever consider an attempt at aggressive consolidation.
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“So, if Kim actually wants to try to reunify the two Koreas,” Mr Dreazen argued, “he needs to somehow break up the US-South Korea alliance.”
There are several ways in which Kim and now, his sister, could theoretically break up the alliance, Mr Dreazen said.
One is being able to credibly threaten to destroy New York or Washington.
The North is considered to have several missiles that could potentially reach mainland US.
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Although it is widely accepted that were the North to launch an attack, US anti-missile weaponry would snuff out any danger within minutes if not seconds.
North Korea’s problem now, Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York and an affiliated scholar at University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute, told Express.co.uk, is that Kim essentially has no allies and has become overly isolated on the global stage.
He explained: “North Korea doesn’t have any allies.
“Technically, China is someone that they’re supposed to have to rely on, but they hate each other.
“North Korea is not a communist country, it’s a nationalist xenophobic state that has built itself based on one ‘true’ Korea, and that South Korea doesn’t make its own decisions and is occupied by foreign forces, namely, the US.
“They inherit a Korea nationalist narrative and they remember that Korea was a tributary state for China for hundreds of years and they resent that – but they need each other.
“North Korea’s invasion of South Korea cost China Taiwan, and North Korea doesn’t like China telling it what to do.
“Chinese troops left North Korea by 1958 cause Kim Il-sung didn’t want any arms on his soil.
“China wants North Korea to stay around cause they know a united Korea means a US all on their border.
“China isn’t really an ally but more like the North’s get out of jail card.”
Lacking China’s support, the North might in the future, many have argued, find itself cornered.
In this desperate situation, Kim could either react by opening diplomatic negotiations or, as some have reasoned, push the boundaries of aggression likely to spark conflict and nuclear war.
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