|North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un|
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.
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 Pyong-il, the younger half brother of KJI, presented credentials to the Czech President https://t.co/d3iXJjC4B8 pic.twitter.com/PsOOYi17km— Europe ⇄ North Korea (@EuropeNK) January 30, 2015
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!"
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.
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.
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.