News of a traffic cop receiving an award wouldn't usually make international news. But when the cop happens to be from North Korea, and the honor happens to be the "Hero of the Republic" award, it's a different story. South Korea media is speculating that Ri Kyong Sim may have saved Kim Jong Un's life. According to the North's official news, Ri "displayed the heroic self-sacrificing spirit of safeguarding the security of the headquarters of the revolution in an unexpected circumstance." The "headquarters of the revolution" frequently means North Korea's top leaders, the AFP notes.
Other possibly telling quotes:
- From her boss: "Comrade Ri's action was ... made possible because she had always harbored this longing for the respected leader day and night."
- From a former teacher: "She was always such a responsible person ... that explains why she could achieve such a heroic feat for the safety of the brains of our revolution."
The exact nature of her act remains unclear. Some in South Korea have suggested she came to Kim's aid during a traffic accident. But "I suspect it might have been linked to an assassination attempt disguised as a traffic accident," the head of a North Korean defector organization tells AFP.