Kim Jong-un theories mount as rumors swirl

When Kim Jong-un went conspicuously missing for a month back in 2014, North Korean state media finally put rumors about the young dictator’s status to bed by announcing he was very much alive, just experiencing some “discomfort.” As of Sunday, there were no such reports from state media in Poyngyang. And, with Mr. Kim now absent from public view for the past two weeks, the rumor mill is beginning to churn at full tilt. Is he dead? Will his sister Kim Yo Jong take power? What about his father’s half-brother Kim Pyong Il? Are Chinese and American officials secretly negotiating over the North’s nuclear weapons stockpile while the world waits for an announcement? Those are just a few of the questions swirling in the absence of any official North Korean announcement about the 36-year-old Mr. Kim, an overweight smoker with a family history of heart disease who’s been known to fall ill in the past. While U.S. and regional intelligence sources continued on Sunday morning to firmly push back against foreign media reports — including a rising number this weekend that have claimed Mr. Kim is “dead” — the theories about what’s really going on in notoriously secretive North Korea are mounting. Some well respected Pyongyang watchers have already weighed in with predictions about the future of the regime, as if Mr. Kim may truly be deceased. “Regardless of who assumes power, there are no indications that a successor would pursue different domestic or foreign policies,” Bruce Klingner, a former CIA Korea official now with the Heritage Foundation wrote in an analysis late last week. David Maxwell, a retired Special Forces colonel and North Korea expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was more sober on Saturday, reflecting in comments circulated by email that reports of satellite imagery showing the North Korean dictator’s private train parked at an exclusive Kim family compound could mean many things. “This certainly adds to the mystery,” Mr. Maxwell said. “He could be there to hide out from the coronavirus or just sipping cognac and smoking cigars chuckling about how the international community has worked itself into a [tizzy].” “Or maybe it is there to return his body to Pyongyang,” Mr. Maxwell added. Such speculation is based on the fact that no images of Mr. Kim in public have been published since April 11.

And that’s really the bottom line..  He hasn’t been seen in public since April 11th; two weeks  It could mean something, or it could mean nothing.  So, no point in speculating or gossiping.  We’ll just have to wait until they’re ready to tell us.  Of course, once we have credible information, AND what it all means going forward, we’ll be sure to report it here.

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