05.11.2021 Author: Konstantin Asmolov

Nutrionless Fakes about a Coup D’etat in North Korea

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On October 24, 2021, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service stated that media reports about the North Korean leader’s sister committing a coup against her brother were fundamentally untrue.

The primary source of the ‘hype’ is the October 23 report of the American tabloid magazine Globe about the coup d’etat in North Korea.  It turns out that Kim’s “ruthless kid sister” allegedly staged a secret coup between May 6 and June 5 and “murdered him before he could execute her”.

Citing US intelligence sources, the tabloid reported that Kim Jong-un, who has not been seen in public since June, did only make a public appearance on September 9, but even than it wasn’t him as he was replaced by an imposter whose appearance differs from the way he looked in the past, most notably due to significant weight loss. Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun newspaper also suggested that the North Korean leader seen at the September 9 event may have been a double.

Speculation about Kim Jong-un’s health has been regularly raised in the media since last year when the author took apart the relevant “fakes” in detail. Intelligence in July dismissed rumors of Kim Jong-un’s health problems as unfounded, but changes in the North Korean leader’s appearance, who has lost weight and became slimmer, are real. Admittedly, if you look at finer details such as the shape of his ears, it becomes clear that we’ve seen a real deal.

In November 2020, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reported that Kim, believed to be 170 centimeters tall, weighed 90 kilograms in 2012 but gained six to seven kilograms each year and weighed 140 by 2020. But in July 2021, Kim appears to have lost 10 to 20 kilograms, and some media outlets have reported that judging by the photos, he seems to have lost another 20 kilograms since then.  The dramatic weight loss combined with his absence from the public has led to rumors and speculation.

Of course, the leader’s sudden weight loss has several explanations, and the experts chose them depending on their position. Those who prophesy North Korea’s imminent doom have decided that such rapid weight loss can have only one cause – cancer. This is quite characteristic because, in the view of those who see the stereotypical “comic book dictator” instead of Kim, there is no thought that a “dictator” might not indulge in excesses but seriously deal with his health as a responsible ruler. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un has shown himself to be a pragmatic leader, who apparently at some point realized that some things could not be put off and health needs to be taken seriously. Especially if the assumptions that Kim is diabetic and hypertensive are correct, being overweight is deadly to him. Both Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-sung and his father Kim Jong-il died of cardiovascular disease, which would have given him ample reason to control his weight.

The DPRK leader’s speeches show that he takes the responsibility of leading his country very seriously and that he owes it to his people, on the one hand, and to his great ancestors, on the other. So, roughly speaking, he has no right not to live to 40. In the world history of the 20th century, there were enough examples when a leader of a country persistently worked hard and ignored his health finally got a serious diagnosis such as a stroke and lost his ability to work, which directly influenced the effectiveness of his work in state management.

In this context, such rumors reflect the kind of hot news that interests those for whom North Korea is a kind of “mysterious Mordor” in which anything can happen. In addition, the beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic sister of the leader, periodically making harsh and snide statements, has become a source of memes and news items that would otherwise be called “gossip column.” That’s why news of her being secretly appointed successor or because a brother and sister “had a disagreement and he pushed her over” happens every 4~5 months.

Here unwillingly remember the so-called “Law of Stonefish,” invented by the American journalist named Stonefish. According to him, even the most delusional news about North Korea will find an audience in the USA because the image of North Korea as an evil state is common knowledge, and people lacking critical thinking do not even ask questions because everything is clear to them. Not surprisingly, such fake news is becoming more and more extravagant.

Then outed North Korean refugee Park Yeon-mi tells heartbreaking stories about “Kim Jong-un being gay” in all seriousness based on him holding someone’s hand and being in a photo with men at a fairly close distance. And the fact that the distance of communication in traditional Korea is significantly closer than in the US, she cannot know.

Then the Daily NK once again talks about extinct villages, forgetting to tell who told about it if the whole village is extinct.

But the more overtly cartoonish the news, the more likely it is that such “fakes” will be debunked “before they can take off.” And the clumsy techniques of anti-Pyongyang propaganda will stop working altogether.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 


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