A group of elderly men were gathered at a restaurant in the neighborhoods. There was a heated discussion on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reportedly in poor health condition, and his likely successor Kim Yo Jong.
Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest, likened rumors around Kim Jong Un to those about famous U.S. celebrity Kim Kardashian on TMZ, a US celebrity gossip website. “Facts about Kim Jong Un end up looking like a TMZ Kardashians rumor piece if you look months later at some of the items we believe,” he said.
China finds it hard to reduce influence over North Korea in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic sluggishness. “It would be a huge deal for China if Kim‘s health was deteriorating,” former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun said. He depicted that Kim Jong Un’s poor health is more of a huge deal than just a big deal to Beijing.
“It (the COVID-19 pandemic) may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the country‘s leadership,” said Ian Bremmer, president and founder of political consulting firm Eurasia Group. By definition, the phrase “blessing in disguise” means an apparent misfortune that eventually has good results. There is a possibility that the North Korean government is trying to handle internal confusion related to Kim’s poor health condition while making an excuse that it is working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19.