Power Struggle Looms in North Korea

Kim's sons, military will vie to take charge in wake of president's illness
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2008 3:55 AM CDT
South Koreans watch TV reporting on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – With no obvious successor in the shadows, North Korea may be in for a bitter power struggle if reports prove true that President Kim Jong Il is gravely ill after suffering a stroke. The North Korean autocrat was mysteriously absent from 60th anniversary celebrations yesterday. The power vacuum could be filled by the victor among his four sons and a range of military factions, reports AP.

"Trying to figure out North Korea politics is like playing with a ouija board," said one expert. "It puts things on hold on the nuclear front but it depends on who takes over." Kim's eldest son was once considered his favorite—until the 37-year-old heir apparent was caught using a fake passport to try to get to Tokyo's Disney resort.