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This paper analyzes the background, problems and political dynamics related to the hereditary succession currently underway in North Korea. The succession to Kim Jong-un has been prepared amid relatively challenging internal and external conditions. The consolidation of Kim Jong-un’s power should solve three political challenges. The first is to inherit and repackage Kim Jong-il’s power legacy. The second is to reorganize the party-state’s higher power agencies and adapt them to new realities in the country. The third is to build Kim Jong-un’s own personal power base. There are four main structural factors which can influence the future trajectories of political succession and North Korean politics: regime survival and hereditary succession; ruler-state relations; ruler-society relations; relations between foreign powers and domestic actors. The combination of these four structural factors and the four political actors within and without the regime–hard-liners, soft-liners, moderate oppositions and maximalist oppositions–will determine the future trajectories of North Korean politics.