North Korean defector says Kim Jong Un not leaving power anytime soon

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s grip on power inside the hermit kingdom is stronger than ever despite reports he is in ill health, a defector with contacts inside Pyongyang told The Post.

The 36-year-old ruler has for months been dogged by rumors that he is gravely ill and possibly in a coma — fueling speculation that his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, could take control of the brutal regime.

But in an exclusive phone interview with The Post this week, North Korean dissident Yeonmi Park, 26, said the strongman isn’t going anywhere.

“I still have contacts in North Korea and people in North Korea giving me information,” she said from her home in Chicago.

“We can agree that Kim Yo Jong is not taking over North Korea and I don’t think that is in her interest. Kim Jong Un is very much in power and he’s not dying anytime soon,” she continued.

Park, who was lucky enough to escape the rogue regime with her mother at the age of 13, but not before she was sold by human traffickers in China, said whenever a previous ruler had been in ill health, the first thing they did was secure a successor.

The fact that Kim has not executed his younger sister, unlike his uncle and half-brother, means he doesn’t consider her a threat, Park, an activist and outspoken critic of the dictatorship, said.

“Kim Il Sung prepared Kim Jong Il for decades to be his successor and made it very clear from the beginning, ‘This is my son and he’s going to lead the country’ and that took more than 10 years — almost 20 years,” Park said of the country’s first exchange of power in 1994.

“Before Kim Jong Il died, it wasn’t like one day Kim Jong Un took over. Kim Jong Il made sure his son was known to the North Korean people and it was clear that he was the next heir. He prepared him for at least three years beforehand,” she added of the Kim Jong Un’s ascension to power in 2011.

“I’m sure if Kim Jong Un’s health is bad that he would announce his sister to be the next successor but direct from my North Korean source, that is not the case. He’s not anywhere near to being replaced.”

Asian media began reporting in April that Kim had either died during a botched operation or was in a vegetative state in a coma.

But he appeared to be in fine health during a rare public appearance last week when he visited a western coastal area of North Korea hit by Typhoon Bavi.

Kim Yo Jong, 32, has since vanished from public view, leading South Korean media to speculate the paranoid North Korean tyrant may have purged her.

But Park said there were multiple reasons why all these reports are untrue and said Kim was hiding out to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus.

“North Korea is a very Confucius country. We respect the elders, the hierarchy. It’s not like America where anyone can step up and do things, we have our tradition,” she explained of the secretive country.

“Kim Yo Jong is not going to get any respect if she one day she just says, ‘I’m going to replace him.’”

Park pointed to the execution of Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek in 2013 and his half brother Kim Jong Nam at a Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017, saying those men posed real threats to his grip on power.

“Because there’s no two powers that can coexist, Kim Jong Un had to get rid of his uncle in a brutal way. Why did he get rid of his brother? Because of the same reason,” Park said.

“He cannot have anyone who can possibly threaten him while he’s in power. The reason why Kim Yo Jong is still OK and in public because she has no chance to replace Jim Jong Un right now,” she said.

New York Post

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