Hearing daily about the pandemic on the news is getting tiresome. What’s needed is a new, juicy story to capture our attention. Thanks to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un we have just that. The basic plot is now you see him; now you don’t. Well actually, we did just see him. Or did we?
Sadly, one of the pandemic victims was the spring release of the latest James Bond movie, “No Time To Die.” That much anticipated event has now been postponed until November 25th. Stepping in to fill the drama, mystery, and exotic location void is the current tale about the “Supreme Leader of North Korea.” We have a rich, powerful, evil villain–billionaire human rights violator, Kim Jong-Un. We have an exotic location–the Hermit Kingdom. We even have a bevy of beauties (the dictator’s alleged harem) and lots of cool means of transportation (the dictator’s armored train and armored Mercedes.) Time to grab some popcorn and settle in for an entertaining and true news story.
The North Korean leader is a high profile figure. When no one sees him for 20 days, suspicions arise. Can you imagine President Trump being absent from view for almost three weeks? OK, some might desire that situation, but wouldn’t it cause an uproar to have him AWOL? Similarly, all sorts of buzz began when Kim Jong-Un vanished from public view.
When last seen on 4/11, the North Korean dictator was doing what a leader would be expected to do. He was attending a political meeting of the ruling Worker’s Party. Then, “Poof!” He was out of sight for days. Sure, even dictators might need a few days off, so no big deal if he wasn’t making speeches or reviewing troops for a short period. But concern and curiosity arose when the dictator failed to show up at an annual event marking the birthday of his late grandfather and national founder, Kim Il Sung.
Since his grandfather is dead, it doesn’t seem like it would be much of a party. Nevertheless, April 15th, the “Day of the Sun,” is a huge event in North Korea. The Supreme Leader’s not showing up to participate in the commemoration activities was a big deal. People asked about his absence, and speculation was rampant.
On April 20th, the South Korean website, Daily NK, reported Kim was recovering from cardiovascular surgery. And who better to know this information than North Korea’s enemy, South Korea? When the two countries aren’t shooting at each other over the DMZ, they’re probably chatting and sharing information on the health of their leaders. If the intel was correct, concern about Kim’s prognosis was valid. He’s is a heavy smoker and obese, weighing 300 pounds while 5’7″ tall, not to mention that his own father died of a heart attack.
Impoverished North Korean citizens were probably hoping they’d get to sing their county’s version of “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.” American leaders, on the other hand, were nervous since Kim has never publicly announced his successor. The last thing the U.S. needed to deal with during a pandemic was instability in a poor, nuclear-armed country. What could possible go wrong with that situation?
Before reports of Kim’s demise (or at least imminent demise) could be confirmed, the media engaged in predictions as to Kim’s successor. Kim, around age 36, is only the third Supreme Leader of North Korea, having followed after this grandfather (Kim Il Sung) and father (Kim Jong Il) in this position. Unfortunately, his oldest son is only 10, a tad too young for taking on the job of oppressing citizens and violating human rights.
Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, around age 31, was touted as the top prospect for successor. Nevertheless, it was unknown whether the powers that be would accept a young, unseasoned female as their new supreme leader. My guess is a resounding, “No!” Cue instability in a poor, nuclear-armed country.
Cooler heads suggested Kim might not be dead, recovering from surgery, or even sick. Perhaps he was laying low to avoid catching COVID-19. Being overweight and a heavy smoker would be two strikes against him if he were to get it. And with 17 luxury palaces around North Korea, Kim had his pick of places to chill out and enjoy himself while being “locked down.”
As the mystery deepened, news reports revealed Kim Jong-Un’s private train had been spotted by satellite. It was parked at the coastal resort town of Wonsan where Kim has a private compound. Just a thought, but maybe Kim Jong-Un taking a private train to a private compound meant he wanted to be out of view.
Kim’s private train is not just any train. It is armored and is able to carry the dictator’s armored Mercedes. The staff providing service on the train are a bevy of hand-picked beauties. Kim Jong-Un likes the ladies and reportedly spent over $2 million one year on imported lingerie to keep them well-dressed. These garments, of course, would not be appropriate to wear outside the train at Wonsan in the sports stadium the dictator has at his private compound. With a net worth estimated at $5 billion, the Supreme Leader can afford to buy top-notch unmentionables and to construct his own sports site.
All the wild theories were laid to rest when Kim Jong-Un appeared in public for the first time in 20 days on May 2nd. Photographs showed him cutting a red-ribbon for the opening of a fertilizer factory in Sunchon, not too far north of Pyongyang. The Supreme Leader was not wearing a mask nor did he appear to be walking with any difficulty. So much for the coronavirus avoidance and heart surgery theories.
But wait! There’s more. Questions were raised as to whether this man was really Kim. Perhaps it was just a body double. The teeth of the man in the picture did not appear to look exactly like they did in past pictures of Kim. So what? The dictator’s worth $5 billion, right? He could afford cosmetic dental surgery if he wanted it. The Supreme Leader’s buddy, President Trump, seemed convinced his friend was alive and well. The American leader tweeted, “I, for one, am glad that he is back, and well.”
All’s well that ends well. Americans know the devil they are dealing with in North Korea with Kim in power rather than facing the demon they don’t know in an as yet to be determined successor. But is this ending good enough? We are still dealing with a devil. What to do? If you haven’t seen it, be sure to laugh your way through James Franco’s movie “The Interview” for a suggestion.
Did you follow the story of Kim Jong-Un being out of the public eye for several days? How do you feel knowing the dictator lives a luxurious life while citizens in his country are starving? What’s worse–dealing with the dictator we know and President Trump has met or facing the prospect of instability from a power struggle in North Korea to succeed him?