It’s been more than 15 days since North Korea’s leader was seen in public.
It is alleged that the dictator underwent a heart operation, that something went wrong under it and it is also rumored that he has died.
Some media claim that Kim is staying in a “local region” outside the capital Pyongyang, while satellite images, taken April 21 and 23, show Kim’s 250-meter luxury train at the Wonsan compound train station.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Kim now. There are fewer than ten people in the world who know the details of this. ” said Vladimir Tikhonov, Professor at the University of Oslo. And these are members of his household and doctors.
Tikhonov emphasizes that this is not the first time Kim has disappeared from the public. It happened in May last year, when he was gone for three weeks, and in April 2014.
“It is impossible to answer what is happening now in a credible way. We can assume that he is gone for some treatment. This does not necessarily mean that he is dead. If he dies, it doesn’t mean any disaster for North Korea either,” says Tikhonov.
“Something is going on when he gets lost on two anniversaries. ” says historian and Asia researcher Stein Tønnesson.
Tønnesson highlights satellite imagery showing Kim’s train is in Wonsan complex, pointing to a speculation in the Washington Post that the dictator was infected by the corona virus. “It’s a speculation, but it seems likely. If he is infected, there is no reason to believe that he will die from it. He’s young. On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary for him to avoid attention around it and avoid being a source of infection,” says the researcher.
“KJU (Kim Jong Un) was AWOL at 4/25 military holiday. He missed 4/15 (which is a bigger deal) There are now more than one source on his incapacitation compared with 24 hrs ago”,said Victor Cha, Georgetown University’s Professor.
“He gets away from significant occasions, but still sends telegrams to foreign country leaders. He is possibly in Wonsan, where it is possible to isolate him, and Chinese doctors have come to North Korea. These are a number of small clues to an explanation that seems likely.”-added Tønnesson.
According to him it is natural to assume that political leaders are more at risk of infection as they see many people and are often traveling. He believes it is not unlikely that one of Kim’s advisers may have been in China and been infected without knowing it, and then infected North Korea’s leader in a meeting.
“These are very weak indications, but should one speculate, I hold a button on this,” he says.
He does not trust Kim to have had a heart operation and that something may have gone wrong during the operation. Despite an unhealthy lifestyle and being overweight, the researcher points out that Kim Jong-un is only 36 years old and that his father, with the same lifestyle, grew much older.
There is no basis to say that he is dying or that there has been a power struggle for successor.
He got his sister into a leading position in the party recently, but that is no wonder and it has further strengthened his position.
Stein Tønnesson believes there will be an explanation for the disappearance from the official team.
“Whether you can rely on the explanation is hard to say. It depends on what it becomes. But one can assume that it is kept hidden if Kim Jong-un has had covid-19.”