Schrodinger’s Kim: Inside North Korea’s rumors


Korean Central News Agency

North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, reportedly makes a public appearance after weeks of silence.

Anton Dahm, Copy Editor

For the last few weeks, rumors have been circulating the global media surrounding the health status of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. These reports began when Kim Jong-un was not present at the country’s most important holiday: the birthday celebration of his late grandfather, Kim Il-sung. From that moment, many agencies and media outlets began looking for answers.

The mystery surrounding Kim Jong-un’s supposed health crisis was further deepened by reports that the dictator had just personally attended a factory opening ceremony on May 1 after being absent from the public eye since April 11. This report of Kim Jong-un originated from North Korean media, which has been known to publish false reports.

For example, in 2012, North Korean media released reports of a unicorn lair found in Pyongyang. Among idealistic yet false reports, intelligence services are skeptical of the North Korean media. In this area of uncertainty, with no concrete evidence, rumors have taken root.

Initially, North Korean defector, Ji Seong-ho, claimed to have information coming from inside the regime. “I’ve been informed that Kim died last weekend. It is not 100 percent certain, but I can say the possibility is 99 percent,” Ji Seong-ho stated. Another South Korean defector suggested Kim Jong-un was injured during a short-range cruise missile test.

Many new theories had been introduced to further muddy the waters. According to a Korean newspaper, one of Kim Jong-un’s bodyguards contracted COVID-19 which had forced the dictator to self-quarantine. A medical incident concerning surgery had been the leading theory, considering the arrival of a team of Chinese doctors in North Korea.

The dilemma lead many to question the United States’ approach with North Korea. In recent years, the Trump administration has hosted summits to build fellowship. As a member of Defense Priorities, Bonnie Kristian does not find this policy ideal. “Rapport has its value, but it is no substitute for effective diplomacy and realistic strategy,” Kristian states.

This entire dialogue speaks volumes to the amount of information America has access to with North Korea. No matter the situation, the North Koreans will control the narrative. Professor Robert Kelly believes nothing is abnormal about the information being released. “Generating confusion, distrust, and bewilderment is part of North Korean general strategy,” he stated. The only thing for certain is that it takes time for the truth to come out.