It seems the wacky life story of North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un has just taken something of a twist: after the appearance of several senior officials at an event in South Korea, several insiders and media sources are reporting that a coup may have occurred. But some reasoned pundits are also suggesting less dramatic alternatives.
The ‘Glorious Leader’ has not been seen publicly for weeks, prompting suggestions that there has been some kind of political insurrection. Over the last few weeks, strange stories have been filtering out of the normally guarded secret state. Early reports indicated that Mr. Jong-Un had a serious case of gout, a common ailment caused by the excessive consumption of rich foods. As if to explain the mysterious disappearance, the top brass and state-run media outlets reported that the boyish figurehead had developed something of a taste for high-end Swiss cheeses.
But the recent appearance of three top North Koreans has triggered new accusations of a silent toppling. In attendance at the Seoul meeting was Hwang Pyong-so, the elusive head of North Korea’s Organisation and Guidance Department. The OGD, as its ominously known in the totalitarian state, has recently consolidated power in opposition to hereditary leader, Jong-Un.
Observers have speculated that Pyong-So’s appearance in Seoul indicates a power shift of a rare kind, while others are sure it was an innocent appearance. State television and radio sources inside North Korea had also reported that Jong-Un was receiving private medical care. In state sponsored video footage, he was shown limping and walking in a pained way. This footage has led some to suggest that Jong-Un is simply spending his time at a plush, private villa in the North Korean countryside.
Whatever the case, it’s a situation which will no doubt play out in the public eye. Jong-Un’s dynastic leadership hangs by a thread, but for the time being, he’s firmly in control of the official message.