Speculation and rumour about Kim Jong-un’s health may amount to nothing, but questions about who might succeed him in the short or long term will always be there. The BBC spoke to analysts about the contenders and whether history is on their side.
A male member of the Kim family has been in charge of North Korea ever since its founding by Kim Il-sung in 1948 – and the mythology of this family runs deep throughout society.
Propaganda about its greatness begins for citizens before they can even read: pre-schoolers sing a song called: “I want to see our leader Kim Jong-un.”
So how can you imagine a North Korea without this symbolic and political figure at the top? How would elites organise themselves, as well as society as a whole?
The easy answer is: we don’t know. More interestingly, they don’t know either. They have never had to do it.