Kim Jong-un’s wife and sister are allegedly feuding about who will be his successor

Experts believe a recent appearance by Kim Jong-un, his daughter, and sister, points to a family feud.

Kim Jong-un, his daughter Kim Ju-Ae, and wife Ri Sol-ju
© SOPA Images / Getty Images
Kim Jong-un, his daughter Kim Ju-Ae, and wife Ri Sol-ju

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju and sister Kim Yo-jong are allegedly feuding, according to experts.

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A 'power struggle' between Kim Jong-un's wife and sister

North Korean experts point to recent images from Kim Jong-un’s appearance at a football match as proof of the feud. The images show Kim Jong-un and his daughter, Kim Ju-Ae, in the VIP box accompanied by North Korea's top military figures.

On the other hand, his sister, Kim Yo-jong, sits by herself at the very end of the back row. In one photo, she is simply a blur, in a second she is hidden behind another person, and in newsreel footage she has been cropped out entirely.

Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute said the introduction of Kim Jong-un's daughter to public life could indicate a 'power struggle' between the leader's wife and sister.

Writing in Sisa Journal, a South Korean magazine, he said it was like 'Ri Sol-ju warning Kim Yo-jong, 'the succession of power does not go to you, but to our children, so never look at it''.

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Yoshihiro Makino, a visiting professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, said the photos from the game could be intended to demonstrate Kim Yo-jong's place to other elites in North Korea. He told Radio Free Asia:

I think the intention is to make it clear that the Kim Jong-un family is the main body and the Kim Yo-jong family is the side branch.

Cheong admitted that talks of a rift were 'overly speculative'. However, North Korea expert Michael Madden said 'it is not as outlandish as previous rumours about North Korea's core elite'. He continued:

There is a 50-year history of Kim family disputes over the succession issue.
One reason that we might be seeing Kim Ju-ae is because her mother feels it necessary to raise the succession claim of one of her children now.
Both Madame Ri and Kim Yo-jong have children who can claim the Paektusan revolutionary lineage of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

Madden pointed out that Kim Jong-un was reportedly chosen to be his father's successor at only eight-years-old, 'so it would not be premature' for him to select his daughter, who's believed to be between nine and 11-years-old, to take over now. He added:

Even if there is a succession-related dispute between Ri Sol-ju and Kim Yo-jong, this is not something which will involve other elites.
As we have seen with the Windsors, it will be kept in the family.

Read more: Kim Jong-un's latest photos with wife and daughter contain small details that may confirm succession

Sources used:

Mirror: 'Clash of the Kims as tyrant Jong-un's wife and sister's secret power struggle exposed'

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