June 9, 2007

Is Kim Jong Ill?

Reports coming from diplomats in Pyongyang have Kim Jong-Il so debilitated that he can no longer walk 30 feet without assistance. He apparently needs heart surgery, which has kept him from making public appearances on his normal schedule:

Kim Jong Il, North Korea's reclusive leader, has been so unwell that he could not walk more than 30 yards without a rest, western governments have been told.

Diplomats in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, are increasingly convinced that the 65-year-old dictator needs heart surgery to restore his apparently flagging health. He has had to be accompanied by an assistant carrying a chair so that, wherever he goes, he can sit and catch his breath. ...

Kim's public appearances have been curtailed this year and he has appeared in public only 23 times, compared with 42 times at the same point last year - an indication, observers say, of his declining health. The suggestion that he underwent an operation offered an apparent explanation for his recent month-long disappearance from public view.

Last month, German cardiac specialists flew into Pyongyang, which heightened speculation about Kim's health. They later claimed that they treated a scientist, a nurse, and three laborers, but a German team of cardiac specialists doesn't come cheap. It would have been easier for Kim to send the five to Germany if those North Koreans needed the help -- and it stretches the imagination that Kim would have that much concern over a nurse and three workers.

Diplomats also report that Kim has begun to rely on his two sons more than usual. They speculate that Kim may want to test them now for the succession, while he's around to see how they perform. Undoubtedly he wants to ensure a smooth transfer of power to someone in his own family, although the military has made moves towards coups in the past. They will likely resist a furtherance of Kim's dynasty, especially while their nation starves.

Kim will also probably want to get more medical assistance for himself, but he will have to do that within North Korea. The UN sanctions on the DPRK restricts the international movement of Dear Leader while he pursues nuclear weapons. On the bright side, Cuba probably won't honor the sanctions, and Kim can take advantage of the superior medical system Castro offers, except when Castro needs life-saving attention himself.


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Comments (22)

Posted by bayam | June 9, 2007 10:06 PM

The best chance the world and North Koreans have for change would come about if someone tries to pull a Krushchev- by seizing power and then obtaining legitimacy through a denunciation of the past and promises to bring about reform. It proved to be an effective tactic under similar circumstances in the USSR. Hopefully there's a military leader in N. Korea smart and strong enough to pull this kind of maneuver off. Then you'd see a dictator who the West can negotiate with. (Sorry neocons, but N. Korea isn't ready for democracy.)

Posted by arb | June 9, 2007 10:09 PM

Send in Michael Moore.

Posted by richard mcenroe | June 9, 2007 10:09 PM

So, do you think the Norks will kidnap a Japanese or Taiwanese heart surgeon?

Posted by Carol Herman | June 9, 2007 10:16 PM

It's the missile technology they sell that has me worried. And, whether IL is ill; or dying, makes no idfference when it comes to this trade.

We've got a problem because we're all talk. No action. While all people come and go.

Is that the new American system? We wait for the bad guys to keel over?

Something tells me we need a better policy.

By the way, there is really only ONE Korea. The map that cuts it in two? Done by Dean Rusk. But it makes no sense. Since the "hermit kingdom" has a spine running down its center. And, the "division" is false. But then, everything the UN touches is fake and false.

Meanwhile, you think there are no Korean doctors? Open up your Yellow Pages.

When a cardiologist examines a patient, the sane approach is to hope the doctor speaks your language. OR someone on the team, does!

As to this type of story? Wishful thinking on the parts of "diplomats," who don't take out scourges like this, anyway.

On the other hand? When Stalin died, someone got close enough to step on the oxygen cord.

Posted by grognard [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 9, 2007 10:21 PM

Good news indeed if true, the Young Turks faction would like to follow the China model on building the economy, that means dumping the nukes and normal relations with the west. This might be their opportunity to move.

Posted by JD | June 9, 2007 10:35 PM

If you've read up on this individual you should have come to the conclusion that he's a profoundly disturbed and unbalanced person. During my military career I was in a position to see additional material concerning him. If this material is ever declassified it will astound some people, hopefully the scum in this country who tout this creature as some great thing to be respected and adored.

My greatest wish is that little Kim, the Dear Leader, suffers a prolonged, painful and humiliating death. It will still not balance the books though. There has rarely in history been a more amoral, self serving icon of evil as Kim Il Jung.

Posted by patrick neid | June 9, 2007 11:18 PM

these creeps can't die soon enough.......

Posted by bayam | June 9, 2007 11:24 PM

You wonder why Kim trusts the Germans. Maybe in his sick mind the Germans are still Nazis. If I were a surgeon, it would be hard not to make a minor "mistake" that leads to death a few weeks after the surgery is over. In fact, wouldn't German intelligence have the same thought?

Posted by firedup | June 10, 2007 12:29 AM

He can't walk 30 FEET or 30 YARDS.... Please advise.


Posted by Adjoran | June 10, 2007 3:21 AM

The paranoid palace intrigues which must now be ongoing would make powerful drama.

I try never to wish ill health on anyone, but murderously oppressive dictators are the exception. Bum ticker, bad cancer, bullet to the brain - it's of little real significance how they depart this earth, so long as their ticket is punched somehow.

For Kim and Castro and Mugabe and Chavez and Assad and every mad mullah in Iran, begone with you!


Posted by DaveK | June 10, 2007 7:07 AM

As bad as the Dear Leader is, his passing won't necessarily make anything better... By all accounts his sons are even more spoiled and self-interested, and could easily take the hell that is currently North Korea and move it to an even more grotesque depth.

But perhaps with Kim's passing, the Chinese will quietly restack the deck, to ensure that what emerges is more malleable to Beijing's "guidance."

Just my $.02

Posted by Scott Malensek | June 10, 2007 7:15 AM

If Kim passes, it will become an extremely dangerous situation re DRPK. His lack of definitive successor and the hundreds of powerful wannabees can make things very explosive on the peninsula. It's a geopolitical timebomb. Let's hope that he passes and power peacefully passes to a better leader. Hell awaits the sicko.

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | June 10, 2007 8:31 AM

Why have the Germans been on the wrong side of humanity for well over a century?

Posted by MarkJ | June 10, 2007 8:32 AM

"Last month, German cardiac specialists flew into Pyongyang, which heightened speculation about Kim's health."

Once again, the uncomfortable question is why the Germans, with all their historical baggage, are providing medical assistance to a man responsible for the untold death and suffering of millions.

Then again, maybe Li'l Kim is now so ga-ga that he thinks the doctors were actually EAST Germans.

Imagine reading this in, oh say, a pre-December 1941 edition of the New York Times:

"Last month, American medical specialists flew into Berlin, which heightened speculation about Adolf Hitler's health. Mr. Hitler has long been rumored to be suffering from Parkinson's Disease."

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | June 10, 2007 10:32 AM

Heads up Carol, it was not just Dean Rusk who made that decision or even drafted it and I doubt you would do better under the circumstances the folks who brought the 38th parrallel about were under.

Unless, of course, you would want to risk another world war with the Soviets JUST after WWII!

Then again, maybe you would and I doubt that would be the right choice.

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | June 10, 2007 10:34 AM

Oh, one more thing, the seperation is a natural one seperating the country almost in half. So natural, in fact, that a couple of OTHER countries had discussed seperating Korea along the same line earlier!

But, hey, who cares about facts?

Posted by Jeanette | June 10, 2007 11:04 AM

To have a heart condition one first needs to have a heart.

Posted by La Mano | June 10, 2007 12:51 PM

Kim Jong Ded would be the best.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 10, 2007 1:22 PM

In the "good news, bad news" department, it seems no one's called in Michael Moore, to show up with Cuban doctors.

And, who knows what those german doctors did? Maybe, all they did was roto-rooter out the arteries?

As to when this critter dies, then it's GOOD NEWS.

As to Korea it's ONE NATION! ONE LANGUAGE. ONE PEOPLE! With "both sides" run by dictators.

As to "starting the next war" ... the only resemblance to anything "previous" ... are the nukes in the hands of the nutters. Which probably intimidates the Chinese more than you know.

Ah, yes. There's the difference! Korea is ONE COUNTRY. China, to the north, is a whole other ballgame. And, Korea will, in fact, be keeping them busy. No one else needs to apply.

And, as General Douglas MacArthur pointed out; Forget Korea. Has no strategic importance. But Taiwan, formerly Formosa is a KEY TO THE PACIFIC. China wants it without firing a shot.

Meanwhile? Separate from all the UN blather; we're back at watching PRIVATE ENTERPRISE AND TRADE!

It's an engine that made America great! (Yes. It did. As soon as the steam engine's invention made it to the USA.)

And, the "other wheel" on the bus has to do with the successes the Chinese have, worldwide, on trade.

Will the world ever be a "safe place?" Hardly likely. We've got diseases. And, we get violence. And, there's no great and successful way to abate competition.

Dunno what the future holds.

But why guess it's gonna be World War Three?

Why not believe, instead, that low level in-fighting among locals is what will be on-going?

While the division of Korea was STUPID!

Now, at the time, India was playing with the russians. This is no longer true.

Politics is sort'a like a whore house. Men go in. And, years later they discover the "health problems." While they scratch what itches.

It's also called "learning from experiences."

Posted by Robert I. Eachus | June 10, 2007 4:15 PM

Carol Herman said: But why guess it's gonna be World War Three?

I think you are a couple of digits short. The Cold War will probably remain the Cold War to everyone who fought in it, like WWI was the Great War to my grandfather. But I don't think any serious historian would use WWIII for anything else.

What about World War 4? Events were moving so fast in 1989, that WW4 ended almost before Time and Newsweek declared it had begun. The United States had started with NAFTA to create a trade block in the Americas, while the Germans were hoping to dominate Europe, and the Japanese had plans for a trade group similar to NAFTA in the Far East.

Then the USSR made West Germany an offer they couldn't refuse. For a one time payment of only 10 billion marks they could reunify Germany. Of course, the real cost of reunification is now estimated as over a trillion Euros, and German reunification dramatically slowed down integration among the the then 11 EU countries.

As for Japan, the envoy they sent to South Korea was publicly insulted. South Korea explained that the extremely rude behavior was personal and not a directed at Japan. But the reminder of events during the Japanese occupation of Korea clearly was intended, and the South Korea government made it clear that it wanted no part of a trade group where they were not a senior partner. So much for that.

So if WW4 ended before it began, who won? Several Eastern European countries and NAFTA. I won't go into the gory details, but one side effect of NAFTA treaty definitions was to make it difficult for Japanese (and to a lesser extent European) companies to sell automobiles into South and Central America. You have heard for years about the auto plants along the Texas Mexican border. What you haven't heard is how many of those cars are shipped south.

And yes, the US has finally agreed to and implemented a 'free-trade' agreement with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua called CAFTA-DR. Personally I would like to see even freer trade within North, South, and Central America. CAFTA-DR is another step in that direction. Whether this constitutes the US or all of the Americas winning depends on your perspective. As you know, the EU seems to be intent on killing the Doha round of trade talks (mostly over French farm supports). IMNSHO, the US should let this round die while continuing to reduce trade barriers in the Americas.

In Europe, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia won. It would be nice to credit that to the end of the Cold War, but that would be incorrect. Germany saw bringing these countries into the EU as an opportunity to acquire additional markets for their manufactured goods. The combination of Germany bringing the former DDR up to EU standards, plus the free flow of people in the EU has resulted in jobs flowing to Eastern Europeans either directly, or from relocation of factories there.

Is the War on Terror WW5? Too soon to know, and even then it may get the WW4 moniker, since one of the last actions of the USSR killed the European theater of what was shaping up as WW4. Again in my opinion, the trade war* will last much longer than the GWOT, and some of the biggest battles are likely to occur a decade or more down the road.

* In the past, trade wars have always been fought mostly by imposing or increasing tariffs. What changed with NAFTA was that NAFTA used tariff reductions as a weapon. NAFTA was a mild win for Mexico, a big win for Canada, and a huge win for the US. Who lost? Japan was the big loser, followed by China, then Western Europe.

Will the world end up divided into giant trade blocks? Possibly, but it doesn't really matter if tariffs and non-trade barriers keep going down. That will result in prosperity everywhere, well everywhere that governments are not too corrupt or dictatorial.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 10, 2007 10:19 PM

No, Robert I. Eachus, no one knows what the future holds.

But using your model; of markets "going global," something's got to keep the "lanes safe." And, that's a military endeavor.

Today, I read on DEBKA, that Iran is threatening to hurt the oil industry, where "oil per barrel will escalate to $250 a barrel." And, DEBKA said they'd try to do this in the Straits of Hormuz.

Well, they might "try."

What we haven't seen, yet, is the capabilities we have at sea. And, we're not the only country with these armaments. Heck, even Israel has a few good subs.

The other "fly in the oinment" comes from the fact that while America is "talking" about its illegals, talking English isn't a requirement.

By the way, I did not know of the "diplomatic brush-off Korea tossed at Japan. But Korea is a psychotic country! Yes, the southern half has electicity and the benefits of having America as it's friend.

Are we the Korean's protectors? WHY?

And, what about the nukes the nut in North Korea not only has; but has been trying to sell to the Saud's; or whatever label you want to stick on terrorists.

Again, we have a "war" on terror. Without a policy.

Since you can't send tanks and hordes of troops out to "fight" the scum in gang land; and in terrorist havens.

Heck, we're not even able to stem the drugs that flows. And, yes, the drugs flow right through the ports. Well? Isn't everything surrounded by water?

Trade's always been important! Heck, the arabs had a field day, starting in 1776 ... for about 40 years, as we "accepted" the losses to pirates.

It really does take Americans time to build to the point where they get the politicians awake, enough, to take corrective action.

We've had 43 presidents so far; about five of them have been TOPS. But ya still got a base of dreck.

We've been making it in spite of government!

As to what's gonna happen, ahead? Dunno. But England's now up in arms over secret sales to the Saudi's through Bandar. BILLIONS WORTH. And, it's only first falling out of their pants.

While, currently, James Baker is trying to pass $15-billion, at least, in the latest military advances, to the Saud's.

So, as we talk "presidents" ... the truth is James Baker coupled himself to the money source. Who knew? And, who can stop this?

We're fighting something that got its start in 1974.

Got any ideas? Throwing numbers against the future wars won't stop terrorists, and conniving businessmen from "taking advantage."

Hey. And, I ain't got no answers.