Sky News Australia has said that Kim, 36, may have deliberately pretended to be dead so that he could figure out if there were leaks in his inner circle in North Korea. Over the past week stories circulated that Kim had died following heart surgery or that he was gravely unwell. Those rumours were squashed after the leader was seen at an event last weekend, as he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the inauguration of a fertiliser plant.
Sky Outsiders host James Morrow told Australian viewers that Kim Jong may have been pulling a “classic Stalinist manoeuvre” to see what the public’s response was.
It is now possible that the leader will use the responses from his long period of absence to begin “purging” those he believes colluded to take over.
Mr Morrow said: “What has probably gone on here that the rumours of his demise were greatly exaggerated.
“He decided to do this, lay low, and see how things broke power-wise, and see who tried to take power in the event of his actual demise.
“I suspect we will see some purges in North Korea pretty soon.”
The leader’s reappearance into the spotlight has ruined the credibility of high profile defectors who had suggested Kim Jong was suffering from a light threatening illness or had died.
North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong-ho, was one of the defectors who had escaped North Korea in 2016.
Another defector Ji Seong-ho said in a media interview that he was certain Kim had died after surgery and an announcement was pending.
“I have pondered on myself for the past few days and felt the weight of the position that I’m in.
“As a public figure, I will behave carefully going forward,” Ji added.
The pair have faced criticism from the ruling Democratic Party in South Korea for causing damage with their statements.
Ji’s party has acknowledged that he has made “rash, careless” comments but said that the Democratic Party is trying to stir up hatred toward them.
It comes following a report by South Korean newspaper Daily NK, that suggested that the leader was fuelling the curiosity surrounding his disappearance to keep the US on their toes.
The paper also believed that it was strange that no statement had been released by Kim Jong’s aides regarding his wellbeing.
A report in the newspaper said: “After a few days out of the public limelight, rumours began spreading of him being sick or worse.
“By instructing others to send diplomatic telegraphs or deliver birthday presents in his name, Kim may have wanted to add to the curiosity surrounding his health while simultaneously keeping both South Korea and the United States off-balance.”
Published at Tue, 05 May 2020 00:53:00 +0000