After months of sustained speculation and rampant rumours, out-there North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un has once again been seen visiting public places. Or rather, state run media entities have published photos which appear to show the rotund leader out and about…
Appearing at two scientific themed events- the opening of a new Wisong Scientists Residential District and a visit to the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences- the thirty one year old leader appeared to be using a cane to assist with walking. The photographs are consistent with initial state reports, which indicated that Mr. Kim had been suffering form an ankle or foot condition.
In the images, the cherubic Mr. Kim can be seen smiling and waving enthusiastically towards the civic monuments in the foreground. In his hands, a black walking stick can be seen. The curious presence of this sole object may not seem controversial, but critics and commentators are noting the radical shift in attitudes on display: instead of being a demi-god, Mr. Jong-Un appears frail and typically human.
Importantly, the recent photographs are at odds with the family business of ‘keeping up appearances’. Until his sudden death in 1994, Mr. Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, was always presented as being in peak physical condition. Similarly, Kim Jong-Il maintained a cheery public profile despite having had a serious stroke thee years before his death. In light of the official story (that Mr. Jong-Un is the latest in a dynasty of superhuman leaders who closely resemble gods), the presence of the cane is indeed baffling.
Information relating to the date of the visits and the nature of the despot’s lengthy absence from the public eye was noticeably missing from the many state reports. But those in the know say Mr. Jong-Un’s stranglehold on power remains firmly in place. Despite several reports indicating a possible coup or overthrow, the re-emergence of the inglorious leader appears to have quickly dispelled the persistent rumours surrounding the fragile North Korean leadership.
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