The Current

Where is Kim Jong Un? North Korea's leader disappears from official life, sparks rumour of a coup

North Korea's leader, one of the world's most volatile state, hasn't been seen in public since early September. Is Kim Jong Un sick? Has there been a coup? Today we're asking North Korean experts what the disappearance of the Hermit King means for the Hermit Kingdom....
North Korea's leader, one of the world's most volatile state, hasn't been seen in public since early September. Is Kim Jong Un sick? Has there been a coup? Today we're asking North Korean experts what the disappearance of the Hermit King means for the Hermit Kingdom.

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Some North Korean watchers say leader Kim Jong Un is just a symbolic puppet trotted around by the real power holders in North Korea, (Reuters/KCNA)


North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has been AWOL since September 3rd. Eyes were on Pyonyang this morning because it's the 69th anniversary of the Workers Party -- an event Kim usually attends.But not today.

Some say Kim is simply recovering from a leg injury.But others believe its a sign there's a new state of affairs in the hermit kingdom.They say that Kim is only a symbolic leader and that the real power now lies with state bodies such as the Organization and Guidance Department -- or OGD.

Jang Jin-Sung is a former North Korean counterintelligence official and poet laureate. He defected to South Korea ten years ago. We spoke to him through an interpreter in Seoul.

Remco Breuker a professor of Korean Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands and says the criticism that Kim Jung Un is a state puppet is a credible point because defectors he works with have evidence to this fact.

Randall Baran-Chong is the Executive Director of HansVoice, a Toronto-based organization that supports defectors from North Korea and says the Supreme Leader's dynasty is very strong.

Still Kim Jong Un is undeniably absent, so the spotlight shifts to the man who's increasingly been filling in. Last week, Hwang Pyong So, became the most senior North Korean official to attend the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games.

Alexandre Mansourov joined us to tell us more about the man filling in for the Great leader, He is a Visiting Scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute in the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. He is also serving as Founding Member of the U.S. National Committee on North Korea.


This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Ines Colabrese and Marc Apollonio.

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