North Korea’s 36-year-old overweight 5’7, 300 pound heavy-drinker-chain-smoking Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, is MIA. It is rumoured that he is in deep kimche. Either, like Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recovering from Covid-19, self-isolating, recovering from heart surgery – or worse.
Did Kim, like Johnson, contract the virus from his political interaction with those necessary for him to stay in power? In Kim’s case, the military, Chinese and Korean smugglers circumventing U.N. sanctions.
North Korea’s border with China, the regime’s close relationship with the “donju” or “masters of money” smugglers, working with their Chinese counterparts and military barracks along the border and conducting the nuclear-missile tests, are petri-dishes-in-waiting for a communicable disease.
North Korea ranked 193rd out of 195 countries in John Hopkin’s University’s 2019 survey of global health security and is incapable of containing or suppressing a Covid-19 epidemic.
North Korea’s military seems to have been stricken by some pandemic. Festivities were unexpectedly cancelled for Army Day on February 8. The chief of the military’s general staff appears to have been quarantined for 20 days in February and military exercises have come to a standstill, notwithstanding the five missile tests to date this year.
NK Daily, a news organization based in South Korea, citing a North Korean source reported that some 180 soldiers stationed along the Chinese border had died of Covid-19-like symptoms in January and February; “there were just too many bodies” to cremate, the source claimed. NK Daily has also reported that in early April several doctors died after suffering from “fevers and respiratory pains” at a military hospital in Nampo, a port city near Pyongyang.
During one of Kim’s rare public appearances in March, at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new elite hospital in Pyongyang, he stunningly admitted he was “feeling miserably self-critical of the fact that there is no perfect and modern medical service establishment even in the capital city.”
Kim knows and acknowledged North Korea’s inability to contain a pandemic. On January 30, the day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” Pyongyang sealed its borders, cancelled international flights, placed all foreign visitors from China in seclusion and declared a “national emergency anti-epidemic” lockdown.
Smuggling, the regime’s lifeblood during international sanctions is banned. A complete economic self-embargo! Violators are executed.
The only public appearance Kim has made the last three months, besides the hospital ground-breaking ceremony, was a brief attendance to lay a commemorative wreath at his father’s mausoleum.
His conspicuous absence from the Supreme People’s Assembly this month and for the first time in his eight-plus years in power not attending the April 15 celebrations marking the birthday of his grandfather – one of the biggest events in Pyongyang – have sparked the rumours about his health and whereabouts.
His absence has raised questions about the country’s dynastic succession. If he is incapacitated or dies, what happens? Kim succeeded his father Kim Jong-il in 2011, who followed his grandfather Kim Il-sung the pariah state’s founder. Kim’s children are to young to take over.
The only other family members are his sister, Kim Yo Jong, the most-likely heading a collective leadership, Kim Pyong-il, the younger paternal half-brother of Kim Jong-il, who spent four decades in ambassadorial roles in Europe, or Kim Jong-choi, the leader’s effeminate half brother rock ‘n’ roller. The alternatives, a stand-in double, a power struggle between members of the military high command – or China, the U.S., South Korea and Japan intervening – to not only stop the virus pandemic – but bring an end to the nuclear pariah.
No matter the outcome – Kim Kimche!