Chef predicts coup in North Korea because Kim Jong Un has purged his powerbase
Chef predicts coup in North Korea because Kim Jong-un has purged his powerbase. Reuters

A sushi chef who cut up fish for North Korea's ruling elite fears that Kim Jong-un could be in for the chop.

Speaking to NK News, Kenji Fujimoto said the young ruler of the reclusive regime was vulnerable to a coup by a rival because of purges he has mounted against members of his own family and inner circle.

Executing his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, has made it easier for a rival faction inside the hermit kingdom to "tip over" Kim's leadership, he said.

According to the chef - who made sushi for Kim's father Kim Jong-il - there was a "very high possibility of a coup". He predicted that the young dictator would find maintaining control difficult.

Ordering the execution of Jang dealt a heavy blow to Kim's support base and paved the way for further power struggles, said the cooking expert who claimed he had a close relationship with Kim's father.

Fujimoto told Kosuke Takahashi: "His blood relatives are thinning out. There is only his older brother Prince Jong-chol and his sister Princess Yo-jong. Now there are only the three of them. How are they going to protect the Kim court?

"It's tough from here onwards for him. I see a very high possibility of a coup d'état. I see a very high possibility of that. And insurgencies. There will definitely be cases of power struggles."

Fujimoto's predictions go against the general consensus that Kim had firmed up his position following the execution of his uncle.

There was speculation at the time that Jang – an extremely influential figure who helped smooth Kim's path to power - had been fed to a pack of starving dogs. But these reports proved unfounded and it is believed he was killed by firing squad.

Fugimoto said: "It'd be easy to tip them [the regime] over, especially now that Mr Jang Song-thaek is gone.

"They used to have Mr Jang and Mr Choe, glaring at the elites to keep the military in line. Now they have only the one. I'm sure Mr Choe has many subordinates. But it'll be difficult for Gen Jong-un to keep control now."

Kim is the third son of Kim Jong-il who bypassed his two elder sons to pass on the leadership of the Stalinist state to him as early as 2001, said Fujimoto.