The National Interest’s Korea Studies Team Releases New Report on Kim Pyong-il


In April, rumors of Kim Jong-un’s untimely death made their rounds across the internet after the North Korean leader disappeared for a while from public view. One question appeared to be on everybody’s mind: who would take his place? Among those believed most likely to rise to the occasion was Kim Jong-un’s uncle, and former North Korean Ambassador to a multitude of European countries, Kim Pyong-il. Kim Pyong-il bears a strong physical resemblance to his father and founder of the Kim dynasty, Kim Il-sung. Moreover, Kim Pyong-il once had strong connections to the military upon his departure to serve as a diplomat in 1988, and boasts the added benefit of coming from the Baektu (Kim family) bloodline. However, are these attributes enough to compete with other potential North Korean successors? Could Pyong-il take control instead of a powerhouse such as Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, or a highly respected—and well connected—figure like former head of state Kim Yong-nam?

The National Interest’s Korea Studies team took a deep dive into Kim Pyong-il’s life and career trajectory to find out. What lies in the future for a man once allegedly greeted with cries of “Long live Kim Pyong-il!”?

Click here to read the rest of the story on The National Interest’s website and learn what Harry Kazianis (Senior Director, Korea Studies), John Dale Grover (Korea Studies Fellow), and Adriana Nazarko (former Korea Studies intern) had to say on this fascinating subject.