RUSI Newsbrief, 24th November 2010
It is often said that North Korea is the world’s only ‘communist monarch’. But is Kim Jong-il an absolute monarch? The care he has taken over the last eighteen months in manoeuvring his third son, Kim Jong-un, into a position to succeed him suggests that the dictator suffers some constraints on his power. For the reality of where control lies in Pyongyang is not as obvious as it might seem and there are indications that even Kim Jong-il must approach this transition carefully. A brief analysis of events in the 1990s paints a complex picture of how power is structured in North Korea and the changes its current leader made in the constitution to consolidate it. The inevitable questions are, will Kim Jong-il be able to successfully transfer that power to his youngest son and what challenges might he face along the way?