Pyongyang Reportedly 'On Lockdown' As Trump Admits 'We Don't Know What's Going On' With Kim Jong Un

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 22, 2020 - 07:55 AM

Months ago, as the novel coronavirus was still barrelling across China during the early days of the outbreak, we reported on rumors about an outbreak inside North Korea. The regime has gone to great lengths to suppress any and all information about how quickly the virus is spreading within NK's borders. Only a handful of stories - including a horrifying rumor about the country executing a quarantine violator with an anti-aircraft gun - based on little more than rumor managed to trickle out.

At the time, we joked that we probably wouldn't hear much more out of North Korea unless KJU managed to catch the virus. Of course, in this time when truth is stranger than fiction (who ever thought producers would effectively be paying buyers to take delivery of West Texas crude) the notion that this joke has now become a reality is hardly a surprise. So, when we saw the headlines last night about KJU potentially being on his death bed, we were inclined to take them seriously.

When South Korea's Yonhap reported that it had seen no evidence to support the story, we suspected this wouldn't be the end of it. Crucially, Yonhap didn't deny the claims, it merely reported that South Korean Intelligence had nothing to back them up. One would think if there truly was something seriously wrong with Kim, that his neighbors to the South would be among the first to know.

Whatever the reason for Yonhap's denial, we received more clarity from President Trump last night: During a Q&A with reporters, the president said he "doesn't know" whether Kim is ill, but nevertheless, wished him luck in dealing with any ailment.

"We don't know," Trump said at the briefing. "I can only say this, I wish him well," adding that he and the Communist Dictator had gotten along well while working together. However, Trump added that he "wouldn't place much credence" in the report.

Still, as US Intelligence ponders the question 'where in the world is KJU', the Nikkei Asian Review has offered a quick guide to a subject that is rarely discussed in the west: the North Korean line of succession.

The Kim family dynasty is known as the "Mt. Paektu bloodline." Here's more from NAR:

The Kim family asserts the legitimacy of its rule by citing family lineage - the Mount Paektu bloodline - that goes back to Kim Il Sung, the country's founding father. Since then, the country's leadership has been passed down to his son Kim Jong Il and later his grandson Kim Jong Un.

The Kim family asserts the legitimacy of its rule by citing family lineage - the Mount Paektu bloodline - that goes back to Kim Il Sung, the country's founding father. Since then, the country's leadership has been passed down to his son Kim Jong Il and later his grandson Kim Jong Un.

Given the importance of this family lineage, Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, could be handed over power in the event of an emergency. Kim Yo Jong, 31, vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party of Korea, was reinstated as an alternate Politburo member of the party on April 11, solidifying her position as the de facto No. 2.

Kim also has an older brother, Kim Jong Chul, who was passed over for the leadership. The father, Kim Jong Il, considered Kim Jong Chul "girlish" and not fit to lead the country, the family's former Japanese sushi chef Kenji Fujimoto wrote in an autobiography. 

CNN reported Monday that Kim was in critical condition, eliciting a flood of 'fake news' accusations to pile on top of CNN's coverage of Chris Cuomo emerging from quarantine 'for the first time in weeks'. Yonhap cited a senior SK official saying Kim was likely recovering from a heart procedure in a remote village after visiting a hospital used only by the Kim family. But others, including intelligence officials from the Japanese government, have pushed back on this, saying nobody knows what's going on, and the situation is being closely monitored, with another SK official relaying reports that Pyongyang was put on lockdown on Friday, for a reason that wasn't immediately made clear.

Kim is thought to be staying in a provincial region together with close aides, Yonhap News reported, citing a senior South Korean official.

Meanwhile, Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the South Korean National Assembly's foreign affairs committee, told reporters that North Korea's secret police completely locked down Pyongyang several days ago. He said there are signs of an abnormal situation involving Kim Jong Un.

"I know about the reports," said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga of the news about Kim's health. "We will gather and analyze information while working closely with the U.S. and others."

This isn't the first KJU death rumor, as Nikkei reports.

Since Kim Jong Un became supreme leader in 2012, he has gained weight, and there has been frequent speculation about his poor health. In September 2014, reports of his activities were suspended and rumors that he was brain dead emerged. South Korea's National Intelligence Service eventually said a cyst was surgically removed from his left ankle.

Kim's last activity to be reported by North Korean media was his attendance of meeting of the Politburo of the Worker's Party on April 11. On April 15, Kim Il Sung's birthday, rumors about Kim Jong Un's ill health became rampant after there was no report of him attending a ceremony at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, where his grandfather's body lies in state. Kim Jong Un had not missed the ceremony there before.

Daily NK, a South Korean online news outlet focused on the North, reported Monday that Kim received a cardiovascular procedure on April 12 at a special hospital exclusively used by the Kim family located north of Pyongyang. Kim is recovering, with his medical team returning to the capital, Daily NK reported.

"No unusual signs have been identified inside North Korea," South Korean presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said Tuesday. "There is nothing we can confirm with regard to Chairman Kim's alleged health problem."

So, is KJU still alive? Probably, but nobody outside NK can say for sure.