These fears were highlighted by an expert on Asian politics, who claimed that Kim‘s grip on his role as ‘Supreme Leader’ maybe wasn’t as strong as he would like. Ahead of a trip to meet US President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018, he was said to be concerned that the summit may leave his government vulnerable to a military coup or that other hostile actors might try to depose him, sources told The Washington Post. Victor Cha, a director for Asian affairs for the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, wrote in a 2014 opinion column that Kim’s power “isn’t secure”. He said: “The notion that Kim is secure in his power is fundamentally wrong.
“Dictators may exercise extreme and draconian power like Kim, but they are also pathologically insecure about their grip on the throne.
“All of the public speculation about coups or interim leaders would feed the paranoid impulse of a dictator to correct that perception as quickly as possible, even if it were misplaced.”
Reports also suggested ahead of the 2018 summit with Trump that Kim replaced his three top military officials with younger figures who appear to be more open-minded about the nation’s nuclear-weapons development.
The officers were “known for their unquestioning support” of Kim and to be “flexible enough to accept the massive changes that may come from any deal with” US President
Donald Trump, Reuters reported citing an unnamed “senior US official” and several South Korean experts on North Korea.
Reuters added: “US officials believe there was some dissent in the military about Kim’s negotiations with South Korea and the United States, a complete reversal of the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and historic hostility.”
They also reported that Kim might even be trying to staff the upper ranks of the military with loyalists to make sure there’s no coup attempt while the long-reclusive leader was 3,000 miles away with Trump.
However, just hours later a scheduled lunch between Trump and Kim, as well as a potential joint signing ceremony, was cancelled as talks ultimately fell flat.
Trump said at the time: “We had to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.”
Kim is currently embroiled in a row with South Korea, after North Korea blew up a symbolic liaison office near the border which was built to improve ties with the South.