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Rumors Abound That Kim Yong-Un Is Seriously Ill: Could Mean a Sea Change in Politics of the Region

Updated on April 22, 2020
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An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.


North Korea is a small country in the far east of Asia with a population of 25 million. The country is a part of the Korean Peninsula which is divided at the 38th parallel. North Korea forms the northern part of this line of control (LOC) while the southern part called South Korea is a vibrant democracy supported by the United States

The Korean Peninsula has a tortured history and for many decades was under the control of China. In the 20th century, it was occupied by Japan and treated worse than a slave colony. During World War II, the imperial army recruited young Korean girls as part of a nefarious scheme to provide "comfort women" for the Japanese soldiers. This was a low point of the Imperial Army and has led to a perpetual distrust of Japan by both Koreas.

Towards the end of the war, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin disregarded the neutrality pact and attacked Japan in Manchuria and Korea. The northern part was occupied by the Soviet Union and a communist regime under Kim il-sung, the grandfather of the present dictator was established in 1948. Kim Il-sung, ushered in what is known as the Mount Paektu bloodline. This is a three-generation lineage of North Korean leadership descending from Kim il-sung.

In 1950 Kim ill sung thought it an opportune time to establish communist rule over the entire Korean peninsula and this led to the Korean war which lasted till 1953. North Korea was aided by China and the United States forces could not win a decisive victory with the result that the 38th parallel continued as the border.

After the death of the founder of North Korea his son, Kim Jong-il became the ruler till he passed away on 17 December 2011. His son Kim Jong-un was recognized as the successor after his father's death and has been in control of the country since then. He is the third generation to rule North Korea since 1948.

The rule of the Korean dynasty over North Korea has resulted in setting up of a dictatorship and a personality cult has been created around the bloodline. A hallmark of this dynasty is ruthless elimination of all opposition and one is aware that just a few months back the stepbrother of Kim Jong-un was killed in Southeast Asia.

North Korea is often referred to as the hermit kingdom because it completely cut itself off from the mainstream of world politics and concentrated on the development of nuclear weapons. This could not have been possible without active help from China and to a certain extent Russia. The development of nuclear weapons by North Korea can be directly traced to support from China who played chess games with the nuclear weapons of North Korea with the United States.

In hindsight, one can see that the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea can be directly traced to the incompetence of President Johnson the American president during that period who allowed China to go nuclear.

Within eight years of the coming to power, Kim Jong-un, North Korea is once again in turmoil. The Korean leader is only 36 but is known to be a heavy drinker and smoker. From photographs, one can make out that he is also obese and when you add up all these three parameters they can have a deleterious effect on the health of any human being. There is a possibility that his lifestyle and obesity may have led to some complications. As per American intelligence, the North Korean leader is gravely ill after cardiovascular surgery.

Illness of Kim Jong-un

North Korea professes to be a communist state. However, it is not a state which follows Marxism as enunciated by Karl Marx and one can think of North Korea only as a feudal state that allows no dissent. The North Korean state is a classic example of what was forecast by George Orwell in his novel 1984. There is a big brother always looking over your shoulder and a personality cult is created around the leader. Any deviation from official norms normally means elimination and death. Kim Jong has the dubious distinction of having executed his uncle in a power struggle.

Throughout the last 70 years of the rule of the Paektu bloodline has seen that rituals have great significance. One of the important rituals which have been followed in North Korea is the annual ceremony observing the birth anniversary of the founder Kim Il-sung. World and Western powers observed that Kim was not leading the ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun marking the 108th anniversary of King Il-Sung's birth.

His absence from such an important function has raised the eyebrows and matters have not been helped by a report by the American intelligence that the North Korean dictator could be seriously ill. The information has been passed that he is suffering from the effects of his lifestyle and has undergone cardiovascular surgery.

North Korea's closest ally China has also not thrown any light on the matter. However, the President of South Korea has given an opinion that this information may not be true.

The state-controlled press has not commented as to why the Korean dictator did not attend the ceremony.No reason has been advanced for his absence. It is worth noting that senior North Korean officials including the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the first vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission Choe Ryong Hae and Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Pak Pong Ju were in attendance.

The jigsaw puzzle of North Korea has an added player. She is the sister of the Korean leader Kim-Yo-Jong. She is now believed to be second in command and had accompanied him for his meeting with President Trump. She also did not attend the ceremony at Kum Susan Palace which by itself is something very rare.

There is a remote possibility that the ongoing coronavirus may have had a hand in the absence of Kim and his sister. But in the absence of any authentic news, the rumor mills are having a field day.

The Future

President Trump who created history by having two meetings with the Korean dictator has expressed his concern for the health of Kim Yong. In a secretive state like North Korea, no information is available and outside analysts have to base their findings on conjectures and intelligence reports which may not be completely reliable.

In case the Korean dictator is incapacitated for any way there is no member available to fill his boots. His children are too small and that leaves the playing field only to the sister Kim Yo Jong. Not much is known about her and she only came into prominence when she attended the Winter Olympics as a representative of North Korea and Kim in Seoul. Her political acumen has also not come to the fore and most countries will be wondering how effective she can be in case Kim Jong for whatever reason is incapacitated. The major point going in her favor at the moment is that she is part of a bloodline of the Mount Paektu dynasty.

As things stand the world as yet does not know what happened to Kim Jong-un. There is a possibility that he could be suffering from a life-threatening surgery but again nothing can be confirmed. The world also does not know who the other players are in the political field in North Korea. One thing, however, is clear that anybody who does not have the sacred blood may find it next to impossible to rule North Korea. The mystery of what has happened in North Korea will perhaps be unraveled in a few days or weeks from now.


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