17 September 2019
A Seoul-based website says the corpse of Kim Il-sung is deteriorating. Photo: Bloomberg
A Seoul-based website says the corpse of Kim Il-sung is deteriorating. Photo: Bloomberg

Kim Il-sung on the nose in N Korea?

Almost anything is possible in North Korea, if you believe the rumors. Whether it’s Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un ordering male students to fashion their hair like his or it’s his uncle being fed alive to a pack of ravenous dogs, reports would have it that the country’s only boundary to mind-boggling behavior is the armistice line.

The problem is that there is so little verifiable information coming out of the country and rumors abound to fill the gap. Is it so hard to believe that Kim’s uncle was devoured by canines when the former second-in-command was so publicly marched off to his doom? 

The latest rumor comes courtesy of the Seoul-based website Daily NK just in time for the 20th anniversary of the death of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung. The whispers in the northern capital, it said, are that Grandfather Kim’s corpse is withering away.

The website’s source said that “people compelled to go and pay their respects at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang” have noticed that Kim Il-sung’s skin appears to be deteriorating and his head and body shrinking. The late leader’s look was likened to that of a withered fish. 

The regime is working at great cost to halt the decline, Daily NK said, in a country where most are struggling to make ends meet. It’s not clear if the Kims get a first-family discount on embalming fluid, it said.

Could it be true? It’s not such a stretch when, according to Mao Zedong’s doctor, Ho Chi Minh’s nose rotted away despite the best efforts to mummify his corpse. 

Sometimes the less you know, the more willing you are to believe and anecdote fills the vacuum of fact.

The North Korean tales don’t get better than the one of a Pyongyang delegation visiting a unified Germany and asking not how the nation brought east and west together after the fall of the Berlin Wall but what was the fate of all the former East German officials. 

Is it a joke, an anecdote or a truth? I don’t know but I’m willing to believe it.

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