This article was received on April 26, but despite the delay, it is being published because it’s an extremely useful perspective that will no doubt also come in handy the *next* time there’s some Western media fake news involving the DPRK and its leader Kim Jong Un specifically; which, given the mean frequency of Kim death-scares and other such over-dramatic ‘revelations’, will no doubt be not that far in the future.
FRN Editorial Board
So for the past 48 hours, I’ve witnessed a lot of excited chatter about the alleged incapacitation of Kim Jong Un. First it was because he’d had surgery and was having a tough time of recovery; then it was because he was in a coma; then it was a vegetative state (which some wag imputed to mean he’d just sampled his first vegetable); and then it was a death, with his sister poised to take over and make totalitarian autocracy the equal-opportunity sport it had always longed to be.
Except here’s the thing. There’s no actual proof that this has occurred.
What there is, are a range of predominantly American news-sites, falling over themselves to report that he’s dead, on the strength of what appear to be unconfirmed rumours.
Meanwhile, South Korea – who are both figuratively and literally closer to the situation than just about anyone – have expressed considerable skepticism, and believe everything’s basically normal (or, at least, as normal as the DPRK-o-sphere ever really gets).
Now, in fairness, it is possible that Kim Jong Un is dead. It is possible that there’s some sort of coup underway and the news he is dead has been put out for some intentionally aimed-for impact. It is possible that Kim Jong Un himself put out the news he is dead, because he saw how much “fun” the whole ‘inject disinfectant’ thing was, and wants to have a go at “JUST A PRANK, BRO – WORLD LEADER EDITION” himself.
All of these things are possible, although I am not sure how many, if any, are actually likely.
For now, he is Schrodinger’s Dictator. The Man In The Box.
And until there is actually some sign one way or ‘tuther from the DPRK, it would be entirely premature to actually believe that these “rumours” you’re all suddenly placing massive credence in, have a solid ring of truth to them.
[And seriously, looking at the American right-wingers around the place – you people turn on a dime! You go inside 24 hours from claiming the media makes up anything and everything to make a leader you like look bad (potentially by playing unaltered clips of him speaking) … through to just taking everything that’s being said about a leader you don’t like (but that your leader kinda likes) at face value because you like how it sounds!]
If one looks into it, it turns out that the DPRK appears to be run by a cabal of necromancers. Because on a reasonably regular basis, we hear a report of this or that general or senior official or music-star that’s supposedly been executed in cartoonish supervillain style ways – only to have them turn up alive and well at some function in public view looking surprisingly healthy for a corpse. Particularly one that’s supposedly been used as mortar or anti-aircraft gun target practice.
This has taught me to have a reasonable degree of skepticism whenever such claims are made. It doesn’t mean that executions, disappearances, or dynastic transfers of power are all an illusion. Only that rumours of some deaths are greatly exaggerated, often by people with an agenda – whether that’s to make the DPRK seem more relatably evil as a narrative antagonist, or simply to sell you something, or especially both at once as they both feed of each other. (the shifting stories o some DRPK defectors can also be viewed in this light)
But who cares. Many of you seem to want a “feel good” news story. Because if the death of one is a tragedy and a million a statistic .. the deaths of tens of thousands amidst the present pandemic can apparently be eclipsed by the admittedly rather large figure of one Hermit King in a missile-transporter hearse.
Have a bit of skepticism, and some care – we don’t know that Kim is Dead. It’s possible that his shade is chilling right now with Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, instead.