Kim Jong-un: A Leader And The Mystery Surrounding Him

Kim Jong un is missing – It has been more than 38 days since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un went ‘˜missing’.

It has been more than 38 days since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un went ‘missing’.

He has been absent from the public view triggering a chain reaction of speculation about the regime which is known for its secrecy and opaqueness.

Is the regime falling? Or the leader is upto something?

Till now, Kim has been a no-show at two high-profile public events.

On October 10, he was expected to join the masses on the anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Worker’s Party, but he was nowhere to be seen. The second instance occurred on September 9, the Foundation Day of the North Korean State – an occasion which holds utmost importance – and yet the leader was not present.

His absence in these two days of political significance has signaled a political turmoil which is yet to be read and understood by the media or experts. Although, the official North Korean media have cited unspecified personal “discomfort” as grounds for Kim’s absence from public view.

The absence of 32 year old leader has been attributed to some common and some not to common reasons. As BBC reported, “foreign analysts of the regime have speculated, on the basis of very limited empirical evidence, that this may be based on a variety of causes ranging from gout, diabetes, heavy smoking on the part of the young leader, ankle injuries sustained during recent military inspection visits, and most recently (according to testimony from a German doctor who met Mr Kim) substantial problems in his endocrine system and internal organs.”

These conclusions seem to be logical as the regime leader revels in high-profile public appearances and he was recently reported to be suffering from goiter which would displease him.

More dramatic reasons have been drawn which include one where a political coup is speculated which may have led to his house arrest which is possible due to the army of enemies that Kim has created for himself.

It should be noted that Kim had a penchant for purging his political rivals. He had executed his uncle Jang Song-taek in December 2013. He has failed to promote lasting economic prosperity in the country. Also, the possibility of senior members of the Pyongyang elite to have become increasingly disgruntled as a result of tightening international sanctions that have curtailed their access to privileges in-kind, typically in the form of ever more scarce luxury commodities, cannot be denied which may lead to the above theory.

There have been a number of failures. As BBC puts it: “An erratic policy over the last nine months of alternately sharply criticising and reaching out to the Park Geun-hye administration in South Korea has failed to deliver any political or economic dividends for the North, whether in the form of substantially expanded humanitarian aid, a re-start of tourism at the North’s Mount Kumgang resort, or a dramatic rise in inward foreign investment and trade.”

However, on October 4, a surprise visit was thrown to Seoul by a three-man delegation, headed by Kim’s trusted senior military adviser, Hwang Pyong-so, vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission and a former official in the country’s powerful but secretive Organisation and Guidance Department (OGD). Hwang had reportedly brought with him a personal message from Kim to President Park and the visit was intended to open up rare diplomatic space for renewed North-South dialogue. This fact points to Kim still being in control of the state.

It should also be noted that in late Septemeber, when Kim was unable to attend the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had received a handwritten letter from him, delivered by North Korean foreign minister Ri Su-young.

As is the nature of North Korea, to get a detailed explanation is out of question.

We may have to wait for the leader to surface and an official statement to follow.

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