Conspiracy: The Quiet Chaos in North Korea



Kim Jong-un with his sister Kim Yo-jong; despite their close relationship, the possibility of her becoming heir is almost obsolete.

Eunice Ahn, Photojournalist

Amidst the pandemic around the world, it came to people’s attention about Kim Jong-un’s unusual lack of appearance in public. Rumors spread like wildfire, as theories of his death were all over the internet. Due to lack of evidence, no one was sure whether he was dead or not, until he made his appearance again in public. Despite his return, people were suspicious on whether Kim Jong-un is actually healthy or not.


The speculation of his death began on April 15, an important holiday in Korea, as it is the birthday of the first dictator of North Korea, Kim Il-sung. The fact that he had not attended such an important event brought people to speculate where he had gone as there was no reason for him to not attend. Then, an anonymous report was sent to the Daily NK stating that Kim Jong-un had been struggling with cardiovascular problems (BBC). This caused people to go into a wild frenzy, as news of his death were spread and memes of who the next heir of North Korea would be were made. It also seemed convincing, as this was not the first time he went “missing”, the first time being back in September 2014. When he made his public appearance after 40 days, he was shown in a photograph with a cane to support him (BBC). Whether not that disappearance relates to his recent disappearance is not confirmed, but it was enough to pour oil in the fire.


When the news of his death was going around, there were rumors that if he were to actually be dead, then his next heir will be his sister, Kim Yo-jong. Kim Yo-jong has been making public appearances with Kim Jong-un, and she also had the pure blood of the Kim family. Not only that, it seemed like she was the only one qualified to rule, as Kim Jong-un’s eldest child is only around ten years old (BBC). However, due to North Korea being a country that has heavy male influence, it is unlikely for her to take the throne. A second candidate was Kim Jong-un’s older brother, Kim Jong-chul, but he has never shown interest in politics of ruling the country. The last candidate is Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Kim Pyong-il. Kim Pyong-il lost against his half brother and second ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, and he spent four decades abroad, working in the diplomatic field. If Kim Jong-un were to die, it is most likely Kim Pyong-il will become the next leader of North Korea (BBC). But the rumors of a new heir was dismissed when Kim Jong-un made his appearance again; a new theory was made.


Doubt was thrown on his return as it was pointed out that Kim Jong-un looks different. From his teeth to his arm, people started to point out differences on Kim Jong-un’s appearance. Jennifer Zeng, a human rights activist, pointed out differences between different photos of Kim Jong-un (nypost). The biggest takeaway from the photos were his teeth, as it was pointed out that one photo did not have his incisor teeth. The International Business Time (IBT) stated that there is no doubt Kim Jong-un would have body doubles to use (nypost).


The confusion that led to people spreading theories and rumors about North Korea have died down. However, it is still a mystery as to why Kim Jong-un had disappeared and whether or not he actually made a return. As for the question of who his heir should be, the most popular candidate, internationally, is Kim Yo-jong, as Hayden Chave (10) said, “Kim Yo-jong should succeed Kim Jong-un as the heir to the North Korean Dynasty, as she might have opinions that may lead more freedom in North Korea.” There are many unanswered questions surrounding North Korea, but as for now, North Korea seems to be as “normal” as it should be.