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Is There a Way of Removing Kim Jong-un as Leader of North Korea Without War?

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the photo bankDRPK leader Kim Jong-un at a ceremony to open a new residential area on Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang.
DRPK leader Kim Jong-un at a ceremony to open a new residential area on Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang. - Sputnik International
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As tensions rise in North Korea, is there a scenario where Kim Jong-un was removed and the communist regime continues and could such a scenario involve Kim's uncle?

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017 - Sputnik International
In the Face of Washington's Threats, North Korea Readies Another Nuclear Test
As the United States under President Donald Trump makes increasingly bellicose remarks about North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un he has responded with aggression and dire threats, leading many to fear what could be the outcome of the crisis.

It also emerged this week that South Korea still considers the northern half of the peninsula to be "occupied territory" and some hawks in Seoul are itching to restart the Korean War, which ended with a ceasefire in 1953.

But there are doves on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone and China is also keen to not only avoid conflict but retain the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which forms an important buffer on its eastern border.

Military strategists in Beijing are horrified at the prospect of sharing a border with the US-backed Republic of Korea, especially after Washington installed the THAAD missile system in Korea.

© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joonProtesters hold a cutout of US President Donald Trump and images of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and US missile defense system THAAD, right, on a map of Korean Peninsula during a rally against US deployment of the aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, near the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 13, 2017
Protesters hold a cutout of US President Donald Trump and images of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and US missile defense system THAAD, right, on a map of Korean Peninsula during a rally against US deployment of the aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, near the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 13, 2017 - Sputnik International
Protesters hold a cutout of US President Donald Trump and images of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and US missile defense system THAAD, right, on a map of Korean Peninsula during a rally against US deployment of the aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, near the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 13, 2017

One option for avoiding a full-blown war on the Korean Peninsula is for a regime change in Pyongyang.

Several Korea experts have highlighted Kim Pyong-il, 62, as a potential new leader of the DPRK if the erratic Kim Jong-un were to fall.

Kim Pyong-il is the half-brother of Kim Jong-il, the so-called Dear Leader, who led North Korea from 1994 until his death in 2011.

Kim Jong-il had succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, who had ruled the country since its foundation and in the late 1970s a serious rivalry was brewing between Kim Jong-il and his younger brother, who garnered a reputation as something of a playboy.

The elder brother finally lost his temper when he heard that parties were being held by his brother's supporters and people were shouting: "Long live Kim Pyong-il!"

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the photo bankPortraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at a ceremony to open a new residential area on Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang.
Portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at a ceremony to open a new residential area on Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang. - Sputnik International
Portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at a ceremony to open a new residential area on Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang.

He sent his brother into exile, with obscure postings in the political backwaters of Finland, Bulgaria and Hungary.

When another brother Kim Jun-un died in 2011, Kim Pyong-il returned to North Korea but was immediately put under house arrest and later sent abroad on another diplomatic posting.

Kim Pyong-il is currently the North Korean ambassador to the Czech Republic and keep a very low profile.

But Korea watchers say he shares an uncanny resemblance to his father, the Great Leader, Kim il-Sung and there has been speculation that doves in North Korea, possibly backed by China, might use him as a pawn to replace Kim Jong-un and preserve the status quo.

Kim Joo-il, a former soldier in the North Korean Army who now lives in London, told the Daily Express last year that Pyong-il is still very popular in North Korea and would be welcomed by many people. He is also reportedly in favor of reforming the regime and ending prison camps and torture of dissidents.

He said: "Kim Jong-un is afraid of him. Kim Jung-un thinks he is the rightful leader but Kim Pyong-il is more so in reality.

"The North Korean people all know him and support him. The North Korean government is trying to pretend Kim Jong-un has settled in but there is a power struggle in the regime."

Kim Jong-un is thought to suffer from a degree of paranoia and has conducted many purges against those within the regime who he fears are plotting against him.

Earlier this year the North Korean leader's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated in Malaysia.

In this June 4, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, waves after his first-ever interview with South Korean media in Macau, China - Sputnik International
Kim Jong Un's Half-Brother Assassinated in Malaysia

Two North Korean nationals suspected of involvement in his death by poisoning were surprisingly sent home by Malaysia in March.

Last year a magazine in Hong Kong reported that Kim Pyong-il was the preferred choice of many North Koreans who want a change in policy.

It also reported that he was seen as the biggest potential threat from to Kim Jong-un and North Korea had beefed up its National Security Agency surveillance of Kim Pyong-il in Prague.

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