11 October 2008

Is Kim Jong-il still alive?

While reading the Wikipedia article on North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, I learned there is one Japanese researcher who has recently published his surprising analysis.  An English language article from Japan Today summarizes the Waseda University professor's contention that Kim Jong-il has been dead since August 2003 and all subsequent public appearances and summit negotiations have been with imposters.  The UK's TimesOnline also has an interesting summary article on the matter.

Even if the professor is incorrect, the Dear Leader has not made a public appearance for more than a month, and missed some important national events, raising speculation of his dire health status.  However, last week, as reported by the New York Times, the North Korea's state-run news agency claimed Mr. Kim watched a soccer game along with other party officials.  No photos or useful details were provided, although a propoganda quote was included.

Earlier today, CNN reports that North Korean TV has broadcast a series of photos showing Mr. Kim visiting a women's artillery, but no date is given of the photos.

Just a month ago, CNN called Kim Jong-Il "one of the most mysterious leaders in the world". CNN video on last month's 60th anniversary celebration depicts the massive parade and other government officials, but no current footage of the Dear Leader.

What is clear is the combination of such a reclusive government regime and the personality cult that inspires and controls the entire country's population through horrific living conditions, creates conditions in which an imposter leader is both feasible and perhaps even necessary.