'What Is Going On' With Kim Jong Un?

He was said once again to be incapacitated—then supposedly showed up smoking a cigarette
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2020 11:51 AM CDT
After Coma Rumors, Kim Jong Un Shows Up, Cigarette in Hand
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, speaks Tuesday during a plenary meeting of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but Bloomberg has just come out and asked the question we've all had simmering in the back of our minds for some time: "What's going on with Kim Jong Un?" In April, the North Korean leader fell off the map for a few weeks amid speculation he was gravely ill. He reappeared in May as if nothing had happened, and the whispers about his health soon dissipated. Then, earlier this week, the rumor mill started back up again after a South Korean diplomat told the British tabloid the Sun that Kim has actually been in a coma all these months, any recent appearances have been faked, and Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, has been handling things and will ultimately take over.

Now, more confusion. Per the New York Post, North Korea's state news agency has released pics of an "apparently healthy-looking" Kim attending a Tuesday Workers' Party meeting about steps to fight the pandemic and an approaching typhoon. The BBC reports Kim is seen in the photos smoking a cigarette. The Post notes the pictures couldn't be independently confirmed, and that outside journalists weren't allowed at the meeting. The perplexing situation has left experts on North Korea scratching their heads. "We need to check our assumptions about the leadership," a Rand Corp. policy analyst tells Bloomberg. "Perhaps we are imposing our own expectations and habitual knowledge about the North Korean regime on the current situation. And if these expectations are false, then we risk drawing faulty or erroneous conclusions about the regime." (More Kim Jong Un stories.)

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