North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un

Wild rumours that Kim Jong-Un, the new leader of North Korea, has been assassinated have been shot down amid claims he has in fact been preparing for his late father’s birthday.

A convoy of vehicles which surrounded the North Korean embassy in Beijing, where it is understood Kim has been staying, are thought to be behind the rumours which were originally posted on a Chinese social website.

A source close to North Korean dignitaries have told me that everything they have learned from the secret country suggests that life is continuing there as normal. If all hell had broken loose, troops would have been rushed to the borders and that didn’t happen.

The unusually-large number of official vehicles at the North Korean embassy in China were there because, it is now claimed, Kim Jong-Un was making preparations for a fantastic birthday party in memory of his late father, Kim Jong-Il, who died of a suspected heart attack in December.

There have been country-wide celebrations in North Korea each time Kim Jong-Il’s birthday has come around on February 16 and, said US officials, and it believed a number of advisers called at the embassy to discuss celebrations with the late ‘Dear Leader’s’ son before his return to Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-Il would have been 70 this month.

Rumours of Kim Jong-Un’s death are believed to have their origins in a tweet on a Chinese Twitter clone called Weibo.

A user called Hucaihe, who has an office near the North Korean embassy, tweeted that he had noticed some unusual activity there.

He wrote: ‘Downstairs of the office, the cars for the Korean embassy is increasing rapidly. Now it’s over 30 cars.

‘It’s the first time I’ve seen this situation. Did something happen in Korea?’

The post took off around the world, being picked up by the ‘Western Twitter’ with thousands of hits.

Soon another Weibo user, Fan Jing, posted a picture that purported to show the embassy parking lot filled with cars.

Rumours spread like wildfire. Kim Jong-Un had been assassinated…there had been a coup…Kim Jong-Un was on the run and had sought shelter in Beijing.

The stories of his ‘assassination’ grew to the point where it was claimed two gunmen had gained access to his room at the embassy and had shot him dead, before they were killed by bodyguards.

With the embassy strongly guarded it would have been virtually impossible for gunmen to have gained entry – unless it was an ‘inside job’.

Adding to the growing scepticism of an assassination, the Chinese news agency Phoenix has pointed out that a ‘Conference of Remembering the 70th Anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s Birth’ was scheduled to have begun on February 8 in Beijing.

Tours had been planned to China and North Korea by travellers from around the world to mark the anniversary.

The agency did point out, however that so far there was no way to confirm if ‘the actions’ of the North Koran Embassy were related to the celebrations of Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday.

But it made no mention of any assassination.

ABC news in the US quoted American officials as saying there was no validity to the reports.

‘There’s nothing to this,’ said one official, adding there were no indications the reports were true.

Experts, said another official, were monitoring the situation and could see no abnormal activity on the Korean peninsula.

 

 

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North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un - rumours of his assassination.

So the rumours have shot around the world – Kim Jong Un, the new leader of the secretive State of North Korea, has been assassinated.

What are we to believe? Personally, having toured the country last year, I know how long it might take for any official denials or confirmation.

But if you look at the source of the stories that claim Kim was shot by assassins who broke into the North Korean embassy in Beijing, where he was staying, and managed to shoot him, you have to wonder just how true they are.

The source is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter – a source that is known to spread wild rumours about the deaths of celebrities. Maybe they are right this time – or maybe it’s just another beat-up.

It is claimed an unusually-large number of vehicles with blacked out windows have been seen at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, giving rise to speculation that the rumours might have some substance. Then again, Kim might be throwing a party.

We should know soon just how true all this is.

Watch this space.

 

 

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Young women rehearse marching in North Korea

By the left...young women army cadets go through their paces in Pyongyang

I’ve recently returned from an extraordinary journey into North Korea, possibly the world’s most secretive country, although the physical danger is nothing like that of Iraq or Afghanistan.

My ‘entry ticket’ was as a competitor in the first-ever amateur golf tournament to be staged in the country. Oh yes, I do play golf (badly) and North Korea does have a course, even though it’s reserved for the elite and diplomats.

You can read the full account in my story in the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392821/North-Korea-Paranoia-cars-silence-cities.html) but in summary I left with mixed feelings. I hadn’t been shown everything I wanted to see, that was for sure, and the people were generally shy of Westerners like myself. They obviously weren’t used to seeing many, or any.

But I’d like to return again one day and see more of the way of life (but minders will be present, just as they were this time) as five days, interrupted by a golf tournament (at which I embarrassed myself) was not nearly long enough, even though I was given an extraordinary insight into many aspects of life there.