The Mount Paektu Bloodline, Paektu Bloodline or the so called “Kim Bloodline” is the way that dynastic succession is done in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), at least according mostly to the western narrative.
Essentially it is also a way to describe the 3-generational change in power that has so far occurred in the DPRK.
The general thesis now is that any leader of North Korea must be part of this bloodline, with different understandings of what this actually means in practice.
What is the Mount Paektu Bloodline
As it is interpreted it means that any paramount leader of North Korea must be of direct lineage to the founder of North Korea, President Kim Il-Sung. This has so far followed suit with Kim Jong-Il replacing Kim Il-Sung after his death and Kim Jong-Un replacing Kim Jong-Il upon his death.
These though have not necessarily followed similar “royal lines’, meaning leadership has not always gone to the first son, as we will explain later.
Kim Family Tree and the Paektu lineage
Although the Paektu bloodline is a new concept, or rather seen as being started by Kim Il-Sung, many of his ancestors are seen as not just important, but essentially of being part of this revolutionary lineage.
In this respects the first “Revolutionary Kim” is seen as his great-grandfather Kim Ung-u, great-great-great grandfather of Kim Jong-Un.
Contemporary writings and North Korean sources state he was there at the sinking of the General Sherman, thus making him the first in the “Revolutionary Kim” family. There is currently no documented information about his father Song-ryong Kim.
He was married to “Lady Kim” who bore him one son, the next in the Paektu bloodline.
Kim Bo-hyon was the grandfather of Kim-Il Sung and while little revolutionary is spoken about him, other than that he was also at the General Sherman incident, although some dispute this, he is still ocnsidered very important.
He was married to Lee Bo-ik, with whom he had 7 children, two of which were to become extremely important to the future history of North Korea.
Kim Bo-hyon died in 1955, whilst his wife died in 1959, both getting to witness the rise of their grandson to power. They famously lived in Mangyandae, a hugely important revolutionary site in Pyongyang.
Their most famous son was Kim Hyong Jik father of Kim Il-Sung, but he was not the only important revolutionary. Another son, namely Kim Hyong-gwon a revolutionary killed by the Japanese in 1936 and still revered to such a level that he has had places in the DPRK named after him.
First Generation of the Paektu bloodline
President Kim Il-Sung is seen a the first of the Paektu bloodline, but he also had an extremely important brother, who at one time was also favored as potential successor namely younger brother Kim Yong Ju.
Until the rise of Kim Jong-Il he was seen as a likely heir, but this changed in the mid 1970’s. For a time he completely disappeared from view until being recalled in 1993 to act as a vice-premier. During this time he won the Order of Kim Jong Il, Order of Kim Il Sung, as well as Hero of the Republic.
His died in 2021 when he was 101 with it being big enough news to make KCNA.
Second generation of the Paektu Bloodline
With the heir apparent moving from Kim Yong Ju to General Kim Jong-Il we move into the second generation of the Paektu line.
And although Kim Il Sung had more than one child, it was to an extent the mother that proved of pivotal importance here. The mother of Kim Jong Il was Mother Kim Jong-Suk, known alongside the mother of Kim Il-Sung, namely Kang Pak-So as the “first lady”, or mother of the DPRK
Other sons of Kim Il Sung included Kim Man Il who drowned at around aged 4, as well as Kim Kyong-hui, the current aunt of Chairman Kim Jong-Un and lastly Kim Pyong Il.
The former’s husband was Jang Song-thaek who was executed for various crimes, although some felt it was linked to keeping a military-first policy, rather than a more standard party based Soviet-style system under the Workers Party of Korea.
Kim Pyong Il was an important part of the Workers Party of Korea until the rise of his brother when he became a diplomat in 1979 and left the country. In 2019 he returned to Pyongyang after 40 years living abroad. He is known to be resemble his father President Kim Il-Sung greatly.
Third generation of the Paektu bloodline
The third generation of the Paektu bloodline represents the children of General Kim Jong-Il, although some would argue that it could potentially include any direct descendants of President Kim Il-Sung.
Kim Man Il for example is known to have two children, namely Kim In-kang and Kim Ung-song although again very little is known about either.
Kim Jong Il is known to have had around 6 children, of which there is information about 5.
The first son was Kim Jong-nam who at one point was seen as hair apparent to his father, but allegedly fell from grace after being caught in Japan on fake passport and on his way to Disneyland.
After that he largely lived abroad, specifically in Macao and was known to be quite a gambler. He was killed in 2017 whilst in Malaysia. Many have accused this of being the work of North Korea, but this has far from been proven.
Born in 1973 Kim Sul-song is a daughter of Kim Jong-Il that was previously seen a lot accompanying her father, but has since largely disappeared from public gaze.
Kim Jong-chul who was born in 1981 was allegedly never seen as potential heir, due to being seen as too feminine, at least according to former chef Kenji Fujimoto. He is though known to be close to both his brother and the leadership of the country.
Next to be born, allegedly in 1983 was Chairman Kim Jong-Un, the current head of North Korea and the Kim family.
His other sister Kim Yo Jong born in 1987 is a prominent member of the government, and has even been touted a potential successor to Chairman Kim Jong-Un, if something were to happen to him.
The fourth generation of the Mount Paektu Bloodline
This could include anyone born to Chairman Kim Jong-Un and his wife Ri Sol-ju, with them known to have had three children. Of the three children only one, daughter Kim Ju-ae born in 2013 is any kind of public figure.
She has been seen with her father at events such as nuclear tests, with the recent “Missile Industry Holiday” alleged by some to be a way to promote her importance.
Of the other bloodline relatives in this generation, it is known that Kim Yo Jong has two children, whilst it is not known if Kim Jong-chul has any.
Kim Jong-nam is known to have had up to 6 children, of which the previously outspoken Kim Han-Sol is the most well known. Since the death of his father he has since ceased talking to the press, with various rumours about what he has been doing. It is most likely that he still receives a generous stipend from the government of the DPRK.
What is the reality of the Mount Paektu Bloodline?
This largely depends on who you ask and what you believe, but officially at least North Korea works on a party based system of democratic centralism. This means that it is a secular republic, rather than a dynastic royal country.
Although with the great respect and reverence the county puts towards President Kim Il-Sung, it is felt unlikely that anyone from outside the bloodline would be able to become leader, at least under the current political system.
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