He has not been seen for over a month, and apparently no one misses him. North Korea’s dictator has people in the west asking: Kim Jong-un, where are you?
Speculation and rumors abound. The official word is that the leader is suffering from ‘discomfort.’ To the extreme opposite some believe he is no longer in control of the country. They are assuming that North Korea’s Organization and Guidance Department, (OGD), is now running the country.
This speculation was fueled by the appearance of Hwang Pyong-so at the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games in South Korea. It is widely believed that he is a possible rival for Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public since September third. He has missed several significant events. He was missing at the event celebrating the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea on September ninth. He was absent at a legislative session of the Supreme People’s Assembly September 25th. October seventh was the 17th anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s election as general secretary of the ruling party; no sign of Kim Jong-un. His absence for the victory parade for the athletes who participated in the Asian Games in South Korea furthered the rumors.
This is occurring at the same time as North Korea is forced to defend its stand on human rights. Reports have revealed multiple ‘concentration camps’ throughout the country. The official response is that these camps do not exist to brutally punish detractors of the government, their purpose is to ‘reform’ the detainees.
Official Choe Myong Nam spoke at an open briefing and claimed that there were no ‘prison camps,’ only ‘detention centers where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings.’ He said that North Korea was a ‘transition’ nation and therefore would have economic and social problems to overcome.
Who is in control of North Korea? Officials deny that there is any truth in the rumors. One leak reported that Kim was having ‘foot or ankle’ trouble and was receiving medical attention.
Life in North Korea has remained constant since the nation’s leader disappeared. Lectures claim that the trip to the Asian Games was in fact organized by Kim Jung-un himself to honor the athletes. They said he had even ordered a ‘special plane.’
These lectures are frequent; not attending them is not allowed according to the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-ideology System. The lectures are precisely the same in all areas of the country. The wording and ideology are never altered. They display exactly what the government wishes them to believe.
A group of North Koreans living in Japan support the belief that Kim Jong-un continues to be in control. In their online newspaper, Choson Sinbo, they remarked that the trip to Incheon was “made possible by the resolve of Kim Jong-un.”
The question remaining is why Hwang made the trip to the Games. He has two public titles, director of the Korean People’s Army general political department and vice-chair of the National Defense Commission. Neither of them has anything to do with sports.
The Wall Street Journal