A short Sunday report from Seattle… — Adam Cathcart, Editor-in-Chief
- Adam Cathcart, “How Weibo ‘Killed’ Kim Jong-un,” The Diplomat, February 11, 2012, http://the-diplomat.com/2012/02/11/how-weibo-“killed”-kim-jong-un/
So what to make of Friday’s talk? Jaundiced irony is hardly a monopoly of the Western press when covering North Korea, but some of the analysis of the Kim Jong-un rumors was, frankly, a little embarrassing. Gawker, Huffington Post and Reuters, all weighed in, sometimes inexplicably relying on unedited Google translations. Apparently content with the “Babel,” no one bothered to check or cite the North Korean state organ, the Rodong Sinmun (the newspaper does, after all, have a website). On the day he was supposedly killed, Kim Jong-un was on the website’s front page – he had received a gift from Kuwait – although there was no clear evidence he was actually there for the event.
As the next edition rolled out on the morning of February 11 local time, Kim Jong-un was said to be accepting condolences from neighbors. North Korean journalists gave a subtle nod to the Weibo rumors by including two pictures of Kim Jong-un with his dead father in a new Rodong Sinmun photo gallery, highlighted in red as if to say “hello foreign journalists.” These aren’t insignificant items: since the January 8 documentary film extravaganza celebrating Kim Jong-un, such photo montages of the deceased father havebeen inexplicably sloppy in omitting Kim Jong-un, going so far as to include Jang Song Taek, the so-called “regent” of North Korea who has shown hints of developing his own nascent cult of personality.
But there was one detail that would have led at least some faint credibility to Friday’s rumors – the absence of the leader at any events on February 8, which on the North Korean calendar is the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. For a young man so obviously determined to align himself with both the soul of the army and its founder, it seems more than a little odd that February 8 would pass without another opportunity being taken to go cheek-to-jowl with the troops. While Kim Jong-un’s absence might be chalked up to modesty in the shadow of his father’s approaching birthday, this, more than notes on the number of cars in Beijing, could serve as “evidence” that something was out of the ordinary in the North Korean inner sanctum.
Syria and the Assad regime are extremely similar to North Korea in Northeast Asia. If the young Assad [小阿萨德] has difficulty holding power or ultimately fails, this is tantamount to a blow upon the newly-born [诞生不久] Kim Jong Un regime. This is because Kim Jong Un and the young Assad’s situations are almost precisely the same: both took power in hereditary succession from their fathers….Seeing things this way, the impact of a Syrian regime change [变天] would absolutely not be limited to the Middle East; in fact, its impact would be felt as far away as North Korea.
If the masses succeed in overthrowing young Assad’s Syrian regime, it can be estimated that the United States and South Korea would take it as a huge inspiration [预计美国和韩国将受到巨大的启发], a breakthrough with which to inspire North Korea’s domestic opposition[朝鲜国内的反对派身上]. Some South Korean scholars believe that North Korea is a kingly system of hereditary succession, and that the [North Korean] people have, more or less, been long accustomed to it, but, if the Syrian people can overthrow their hereditary leaders, the North Korean people can also do so.