"Trying to figure out North Korea politics ... is like playing with a ouija board. There's no set line of succession like we saw in 1994," said Dr. Michael G. Kulma of the Asia Society in New York.
And the lack of a clear successor in a nation that has made a cult of [father and son] raises the question of what will happen to the world's most isolated country if Kim Jong Il dies suddenly at a time of sensitive international nuclear negotiations.
"The immediate impact is that it puts things on hold on the nuclear front ... but really it depends on who takes over: A hard-line faction? A moderate faction? A military collective? One of his sons?" Kulma said.
Yoo Ho-yeol, a North Korea expert at Korea University, predicted that top military leaders will collectively run the North if Kim is as ill as reported.