The North Korean state newspaper has admitted that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, cannot bend space and time after years of mythologizing him.
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper’s confession is the latest sign that the country is moving away from spreading myths about its leaders, instead taking an approach that focuses on humanizing the dictator, analysts said.
“In realistic terms, a person cannot suddenly disappear and reappear by folding space,” the newspaper said this week, denying that members of the Kim family are capable of “chukji-open” – a hypothetical method of folding space and quickly travel great distances.
In Korean, the term is translated as ‘distance-shrinking magic’ and resembles supernatural speed or teleportation.
A South Korea Ministry of Unification official said on Thursday that the mysterious regime’s trend to demystify its leaders – Kim Jong Un and his father and former leader Kim Jong-il – is “ noteworthy, ” according to the statement. Yonhap News Agency.
“It seems to emphasize patriotism and love for the people rather than mystifying the leaders. We will further analyze the implications, “the official told the agency.
Since the failure of an agreement with US President Donald Trump at their second summit in Hanoi last year, Kim Jong Un has made efforts to show his more ‘human’ side, urging people not to mythologize him .
Pictured: Kim Jong Un is believed to first appear in public after a 20-day absence that raised rumors about his health, and suggestions that he had died as a result of failed heart surgery
In March last year, following the break-up of the negotiations, state media quoted Kim saying, “Deceiving the revolutionary activity and appearance of a leader would lead to the truth being covered.”
“Absolute loyalty would arise when (they) were enchanted by the leader humanly and companionably,” he added.
Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un first appeared in public after a 20-day absence, sparking rumors of his health.
Some reports in April said he had heart surgery, with a Japanese news service saying the surgery went wrong and he was in a vegetative state. Other outlets even went as far as to die.
Since then, South Korean intelligence officials have said there was no sign of Kim Jong Un undergoing heart surgery, after rumors that he was “seriously ill” or even dead after surgery.
However, Kim Jong Un has given an unusually small number of public appearances in the past two months, with analysts saying it was another three weeks without state media attending a public event, but this could be due to the corona virus.
South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon spoke to a parliamentary committee on May 6, saying there was nothing to indicate that rumors of Kim’s ill health were true.
“The NOS judges that at least he has not had any heart-related procedure or surgery,” Commissioner Kim Byung-kee told reporters. “Normally, he performed his duties when he was not in the spotlight.”
“At least there isn’t a heart-related health problem.”
Since the failure to reach an agreement with US President Donald Trump at their second summit in Hanoi last year (photo June 30, 2019), Kim Jong Un has made efforts to show his more ‘human’ side
But the legislator said Kim Jong Un has only made 17 public appearances so far this year, compared to an average of 50 from previous years, which the NIS attributed to a possible coronavirus outbreak in North Korea.
“Kim Jong Un had focused on consolidating internal affairs such as the armed forces and party state gatherings, and concerns about the coronavirus further narrowed his public activities,” said Kim Byung-kee.
“Although North Korea claims it has fallen to zero, it cannot be ruled out that there may have been an outbreak there as they had active people-to-people exchanges with China before closing the border in late January.”
Kim’s unobtrusive profile is because North Korea is imposing anti-coronavirus measures, although the country says it has no confirmed cases, and has been following intense speculation about its health last month after missing an important anniversary.
Kim has appeared in public four times in April and so far in May, compared to 27 times in the same period last year.
Since Kim came to power in 2011, the last least public appearance Kim made in those months was 21 in 2017, according to a note by Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, a Seoul-based organization that follows North Korea .
“This is not normal,” he said in a Twitter post this week.
A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency shows Kim Jong Un (photo May 1) cutting a ribon during a factory completion ceremony, marking his alleged first public appearance in 20 days
As a leader with near-absolute power over the 25.5 million people of North Korea and access to a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, Kim’s health and whereabouts are often examined by the international community for signs of instability.
However, information in North Korea is strictly controlled and independently confirmed details about Kim are almost non existent.
South Korean officials have said they believe Kim’s limited public performance could be precautionary measures in light of concerns over the corona virus. North Korea has canceled, postponed or weakened many large public meetings due to the new corona virus.
When asked about Kim’s absence, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said on Friday that it is monitoring the situation, but noted that Kim is often out of the public eye.
JoongAng Ilbo newspaper cited an unnamed South Korean government official and reported that Kim may be performing his duties from a favorite villa in Wonsan, on the coast.
But the North Korean leader may also just be focused on some of the domestic economic and political goals he outlined before the corona virus crisis hit, said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a former North Korean open source intelligence analyst with the U.S. government.
“COVID remains a major concern for the country, but state coverage of COVID has subsided over the past month or so, so I didn’t see the regime’s increased concerns,” she said.
Friday is three weeks since the state media last showed footage of Kim attending a public event.
The North Korean state media reported that Kim attended the opening ceremony of a fertilizer factory on May 1. That appearance marked a new rise for Kim, whose unprecedented absence from a major holiday on April 15 caused weeks of international speculation about his health and whereabouts.
Since then, the state media has sent a steady stream of stories about Kim sending or receiving letters and diplomatic correspondence, but not showing him attending public events.
North Korean media have been promoting myths about the Kim family for years believing that they are capable of superhuman achievements. Pictured: residents of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, watch Kim Jong Un’s first alleged public appearance on big screens, May 1
Kim Jong Un has had an unusually low number of public appearances this year. Experts believe this is due to Covid-19, although North Korea claims to have seen zero cases of the virus despite the shared border with China where the virus is believed to be from
Meanwhile, North Korea has halted talks with the United States until the results of the US presidential elections in November are announced, the Russian ambassador to Pyongyang told news agencies on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times at historic summits and expressed admiration for him, although hopes of concluding a comprehensive deal have faded.
“The dialogue with Washington, which they find pointless for the time being, seems at least to have been postponed until after the US presidential election,” Ambassador Alexander Matsegora told Interfax in an interview.
“They’ll see what happens next,” he said.
North Korea has fired a series of missiles as it demands concessions from the Trump administration, which says international sanctions should continue until the regime completely denuclearizes.
Matsegora said he expects the Washington-Pyongyang dialogue to resume eventually, and Russia was not satisfied with the suspension of talks that could heighten tension in the border area.
“Clearly, Moscow cannot welcome the freezing of the dialogue between the US and North Korea, which has been accompanied by an escalation of tensions in the region bordering our border with the Far East,” he said.
The ambassador also criticized U.S. sanctions against North Korea, which he said impeded the supply of critical medical equipment to Pyongyang.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in March called for sanctions to be eased during the coronavirus pandemic and told G20 leaders it was a matter of “life and death”.
Matsegora said sanctions blocked the supply of medicines and medical equipment to North Korea, and Washington “was on the hunt for anyone who has at least some trade with North Korea, even if completely harmless things are being delivered.”