As I noted the other day, I think the chances are better than even that Kim Jong-un is seriously ill. And although South Korean intelligence denies that there’s anything wrong with the Dear Leader, how do they explain his absence from not one but two South Korean holidays in a row? And he’s not been seen in public since April 11. True, he was absent for 6 weeks in 2014 but then reappeared, claiming ankle surgery.
Now he could also be quarantining himself in view of the pandemic, and although North Korea claims no cases of Covid-19, that’s doubtful given the traffic from China. A quarantine would explain the presence of his personal train remaining at his compound outside of Pyongyang.
I have no more information than anyone else—and much less than intelligence services, of course—but I have a feeling that the Dictator of Size is indeed seriously ill, and may well be dead. If that’s the case, we’ll have either his sister as leader or a military coup, which could be dire.
At any rate, here’s a fascinating eight-minute video about how foreign countries track the whereabout of the DPRK’s leaders:
And here’s my kvetch, which is also based on a speculation. And that is that those governors and other officials in charge of the pandemic have already decided how long at a minimum the still-quarantined states will be locked down, and they’ve now decided that it will be well into the fall—perhaps the end of the year. Yesterday Deborah Birx, coordinator of the government’s pandemic task force, announced that social distancing will continue through the end of this summer.
My theory, which is not only mine but also a bit of a conspiracy theory, is that those in charge have realized that Americans cannot deal psychologically with the notion of more than six months of further shutdown as well as the concomitant closure of schools and businesses, and so they give us the bad news in dribs and drabs. I’ve analogized this to the situation when a plane has mechanical failure, and they sequentially inform the waiting passengers that it will be fixed “shortly”. Then the delays pile up, one after another. I often suspect the desk people know that they’re misleading us, and for the same reason I suspect the pandemic people are misleading us. (In the case of airlines, I know this is sometimes true because I’ve gotten responses by tweeting to the airlines that are far more accurate—and show far more delays—than the desk personnel let on.)
Now of course there’s considerable uncertainty about when the conditions for lifting restrictions will obtain, but, realistically, nobody thinks the virus’s depredations will stop by June 1 (our latest lockdown extension from the Illinois governor). Experts I know think that the summer is pretty much of a writeoff. But many Americans—I among them—would get really depressed to think that we must live this way until Christmas. Ergo the parade of sequential bad-news announcements.
And I hope I’m wrong about my dissimulation theory, though I don’t care much about the fate of Kim Jong-un.