[Update: C’est pas vrais, says le docteur.]
Every day seems to bring a new rumor about Kim Jong Il’s health, which is in itself a good thing if you consider the effect this must have on the cohesion between ambitious generals, party apparatchiks, and disgruntled young officers in a hungry year. We know the rumors are circulating in North Korea, and it’s safe to assume that they’re just as contradictory inside North Korea as they are on Earth. The difference is that in such a controlled society, people are just as inclined to believe rumors as what they hear in their “news,” depending on what they’re predisposed to believe.
Today’s report, via the South Korean intelligence leak ticker, is that His Porcine Majesty has suffered “a serious setback” in his recovery from a stroke. Previous statements from Japanese and South Korean officials had suggested that Kim was partially disabled by the stroke but — thank goodness — still every bit the absolute, iron-fisted despot and Sun of the Nation. (This squares with the rumors I’m hearing unofficially, that the stroke left Kim paralyzed on his left side. I emphasize that I have no source or authentication for this information.)
The news of this “setback” displaces the most recent gossip, via a reader (thank you):
New doubts over the health of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” have arisen after Kim Jong Il’s eldest son was filmed in Paris apparently soliciting the services …
Please, please, let the next words be “of Divine Brown in an alley behind an adult bookstore.”
… of a top brain surgeon.
The footage, shot by the Japanese Fuji Television, has rekindled conjecture that Mr Kim is gravely ill and has possibly had a stroke. Speculation over the enigmatic dictator’s health has been rife, with some North Korean defectors suggesting that Mr Kim is at death’s door.
That speculation has led some intelligence experts to suggest that Pyongyang may, behind the scenes, be in the grip of a struggle for supremacy by opposing factions eager to take over when the 66-year-old dictator finally loses his stranglehold on power. [Times of London]
It should tell you something that the news changes faster than I have time to post about it.
You can see previous video of Kim Jong Nam being stalked by a reporter in Macau here.
Last month, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak publicly castigated his own officials and his nation’s press for leaks and speculation about Kim Jong Il’s health. This appears not to have had the desired effect.