Is the Talk about Kim Jong Un Being Sick — or Worse — True? Pyongyang is Abuzz, Too.Breaking News
tags: North Korea, Kim Jong Un
Where is Kim Jong Un? Is the devious despot dead after heart surgery? Is he lying in a vegetative state in a hospital bed? Or is he happily chain-smoking at his beachfront palace in Wonsan?
The North Korean leader’s whereabouts, following unconfirmed reports that he’d had heart surgery, have been the subject of much speculation around the world this past week. But his absence has also been noted in the capital Pyongyang, where the elites who support his regime have also gotten wind of the rumors.
They, too, have been asking about the chatter that Kim, who has ruled North Korea for almost eight and a half years — about eight years longer than many analysts gave him — is a goner.
If Kim turns out to be fine, it would hardly be the first time that reports of the death of a North Korean leader had been greatly exaggerated. Japanese and South Korean newspapers killed off his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and his father, Kim Jong Il, multiple times in the years before either man actually died.
Kim Jong Un’s premature demise was also reported in 2014, when his disappearance from public view for six weeks sparked talk of death by military coup, heart attack or excessive cheese consumption.
Having published a biography of Kim, I’ve been bombarded with questions over the past week about whether the whispers are true.
I’m always very cautious with these kinds of rumors, given the number of times they’ve turned out to be wrong. The short answer right now is: I don’t know. None of us will know until either North Korea tells us or he waddles back into view.