North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is ah-live! Maybe.
He sent a message giving his appreciation to people building a complex at his father’s hometown on the border of China although state radio didn’t say anything about the 36-year-old’s health. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported no photos of Kim have been published since his vanishing on April 11th amid speculation heart problems either felled or left him comatose.
South Korea’s official stance is Kim remains in the realm of the living. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy adviser sent a statement to American media saying Kim is “alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
The date of April 13th is interesting since 38 North, the Stimson Center offshoot focusing on North Korea, reported Kim’s train made off and on appearances in Wonsan since at least April 21st, not the 13th.
A train probably belonging to Kim Jong Un has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing his Wonsan compound since at least April 21, according to commercial satellite imagery. The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast.
The approximately 250-meter long train, although partially covered by the station’s roof, can be seen at a railway station reserved for use by the Kim family. It was not present on April 15 but was present on both April 21 and 23.
Imagery indicates the train arrived sometime before April 21 and was still present on April 23, when it appeared to be repositioned for departure. However, there was no indication when that departure might take place.
South Korea possesses better intelligence than 38 North, which relies completely on satellite imagery, although the latter broke news about North Korea’s increased nuclear activities in 2016.
It’s important to note Kim enjoys disappearing acts, possibly to make sure his name remains on the lips of international observers. Kim isn’t necessarily the healthiest of people. Via Yonhap:
[N]ot all speculation has proven to be false. When he was absent from public for about a month in 2014, speculation arose about his health and a political crisis in the secretive state. He later reemerged with a cane and a limp reportedly after having a cyst removed from his ankle.
The 36-year-old leader is known to have various health problems apparently caused by obesity and heavy smoking.
The best guess regarding Kim is he likely did have some sort of health issue requiring him to convalesce for a bit. Kim looked a bit peaked during his last known public appearance a few days before his disappearance. Perhaps he needed surgery or will need a procedure in the future hence the Reuters report of Chinese doctors visiting North Korea. Or maybe he has coronavirus or recently recovered from it.
What comes next, if Kim dies or is dead, is anyone’s guess. Jazz looked at the potential future outlooks yesterday including North Korea becoming more of a vassal state to China. This brings back memories of the 2005 Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction video game from LucasArts involving the death of the North Korea leader and the spiraling international situation involving the Allied Nations (aka the UN), South Korea, China, and Russian Mafia.
The canon ending? China takes over North Korea.
At the moment, though, Kim Jong-un is alive and doing well according to South Korea. Whether he will be in the future depends on what little drops of information seep out of his country.