The North Korean Guessing Game

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It is called the North Korean Guessing Game and does not cost one red cent to play. Anyone can do it regardless of race, gender, education, or socioeconomic position. In fact, practically everyone is playing, from politicians, to journalists, talking heads on television, and of course, millions of people on social media. So, don’t get left behind. Bone up on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, and current events. Write up an article explaining what you think has happened to Kim and then post it online for all the world to see. Who knows, your theory could end up being correct no matter how dumb it might seem. 😊

Okay, the above paragraph was typed tongue in cheek as I’m sure you can tell. But it does seem that everyone and their mother has a theory on Kim Jong Un’s whereabouts and what is presently going on in North Korea. At this point everyone is jumping in on the action. Even TMZ has thrown its hat into the ring, reporting that Kim is reportedly dead after a botched heart surgery. The funny thing is that TMZ has a pretty accurate record when it comes to reporting celebrity deaths so they could be spot on.

Despite the conjecture, wild theories, and amateurish interpretations of satellite imagery, the facts remain thin. Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public since 11 April. No one outside of the North Korean government can accurately confirm his current whereabouts, or his present health status. Nevertheless, speculation continues to run rampant, and I think its great to see President Trump stir the pot and hint that he might know more about the Kim situation than he lets on. Meanwhile, the South Korean government is bending over backwards to let the world know it believes Kim to be alive and well.

There’s no telling how much more time will pass before solid information about the North Korean leader becomes available. A public sighting would certainly put the speculation to rest once and for all. However, the longer this drags on, the wilder the speculation will become. The US government almost certainly has considerably better intelligence on what’s happening in North Korea than the majority of journalists and self-anointed experts do. The reason for this is simply that the US government has more capable intelligence-gathering tools than do most media outlets, and civilian think tanks. So, unless you have a high-level security clearance, you’re likely going to remain in the dark until the information becomes public.

But don’t let that stop you from playing the North Korean Guessing Game while you wait. As I said above, your theory could wind up being correct. If that’s the case, you are going to come across as a geopolitical genius to your family, friends, and everyone who follows you on Twitter.

 

Author’s Note: A bit of a light-hearted blog entry today. There’s no point in rehashing the same old information over and over again. Back to business tomorrow. Meanwhile, I hope all of you, and your families are healthy and safe. –Mike

North Korea Update: 27 April, 2020

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They say that no news is good news, but North Korea is an exception to the rule. In the case of the secretive, hermit kingdom no news is never good. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s ruler, has entirely disappeared from public view in the last few weeks. He missed a pair of high-profile national holidays, fueling speculation that Kim is not well. Reports surfaced contending he suffered complications following a cardiovascular procedure earlier this month and is now in a vegetative state. Next came reports of a Chinese medical team being dispatched to North Korea to help Kim Jong Un, further adding to concerns about the present state of his health. While much of this has been happening, the South Korean government continues to state its belief that Kim is alive and well and nothing out of the ordinary is happening up north.

The latest morsel in the juicy, ongoing drama is a note purportedly penned by the Supreme Leader himself giving thanks to construction workers and officials at the Wonsan-Kalma tourist resort. North Korean media reported news of the message less than a day after Kim’s personal train was spotted on satellite photographs in the Wonsan area.

Amid all of this, panic buying has apparently gripped Pyongyang with residents stocking up on various items from liquor to canned fish. Given that access to retail stores in Pyongyang is largely limited to government officials and their family members, this suggests that Kim is either deceased or incapacitated and an internal struggle for power is either underway or about to begin. There have also been reports of helicopters flying low over Pyongyang, and train service around the country has been disrupted. This could also suggest a power struggle is taking place behind the scenes.

For what it’s worth, my personal opinion is that Kim Jong Un is either no longer among the living or is severely incapacitated. It is widely believed that his sister Kim Yo Jong has been groomed to succeed him, but there are other possible candidates as well. Right now, a struggle for the crown, so to speak, is probably underway in Pyongyang. Until it is complete, and a new leader selected, I expect no hard news to come out of North Korea.

Kim Jong Un Update: 26 April, 2020

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Speculation concerning the health of Kim Jong Un have escalated over the past twenty-four hours as separate reports have indicated Kim is alive, dead, and in a vegetative state. These reports from various sources fueled false rumors of Kim’s death across social media platforms for much of Saturday. At present, the fact remains that no one outside of the North Korean government can be certain of anything when it comes to the health of Kim Jong Un.

Having said that, as some of the pieces of the puzzle are coming into focus it is becoming evident that something is going on in the DPRK. Saturday was the 88th Anniversary of the founding of the nation’s armed forces. A day of national celebration which traditionally sees North Korea’s leader attending a parade in Pyongyang, as state-run media fawns over him and his more recent achievements. At today’s celebrations, there was no sign of Kim. This certainly adds some credence to the rumor that North Korea’s leader is in a medically induced coma, or vegetative state due to complications stemming from a heart operation earlier this month.

Quite frankly, its not outside the realm of possibility that Kim could be brain dead or deceased entirely for that matter. If either turns out to be true, the fact that no mention has been made to the people of North Korea, or the outside world is not out of the ordinary. As was the case when Kim Jong Il died in 2011, there was a period of preparation that went on between his death, and the news being transmitted. The North Korean government required some time to ensure that the transition of power would be smooth. Something quite similar might be taking place now.

Or, on the other side of the coin, Kim could be dead and instead, factions in Pyongyang are maneuvering for power behind the scenes and word of the Supreme Leader’s demise is being held back until North Korea’s next ruler is determined.

Kim Jong Un Health Concerns Revive Concerns of A North Korean Collapse Scenario.

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In the last 24 hours conflicting reports have emerged concerning the health of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. Sources in the US government have stated that US intelligence received word that Kim Jong Un was in ‘grave condition’ following cardio-vascular surgery. As a result, the United States is closely monitoring reports on Kim’s health, and simultaneously reassessing the overall current picture in that part of the world. South Korea, on the other hand, has reported no unusual signs regarding Kim’s health. Seoul has been unable to confirm Kim’s alleged poor health.

In time, the correct status of Kim Jong Un’s health will become known. If he turns up on television looking healthy and vibrant at some point in the coming days, the US claim was obviously a false alarm. However, if the opposite holds true and Kim is either clinging to life, or is already dead, the world will once again be faced with the prospect of a North Korean collapse. At first glance, the prospect of the North Korean regime collapsing might seem promising. It is not. If Kim dies, then a vacuum develops in Pyongyang. This could touch off fighting between various factions of the North Korean regime, and its military, as they fight for the crown. China, South Korea, and the United States all have a stake North Korea’s future too, for competing reasons in most cases. The possibility of one, or more of these nations’ militaries intervening in some way is not outside the realm of responsibility. That is the point when things would really start to go south, no pun intended.

Then there is the wildcard in any potential post-Kim North Korea: whoever controls the nation’s weapons of mass destruction. The North has chemical, and nuclear weapons, along with the platforms to deliver those weapons at least as far as Guam, and possibly all the way to the west coast of the United States. If it appears as if the weapons of mass destruction are not under the control of a stable faction, or political official, the US, China, or South Korea may feel compelled to secure, or destroy those weapons.

In short, the death of Kim Jong Un is something which nobody in Washington, Beijing, or Seoul is rooting for. Yet until the truth about Kim’s health is revealed, there will be speculation, and preparation aplenty taking place in these capitals, and around the region.