During the just-concluded parliamentary elections in one of the world’s most dynamic economies, South Korea, the opposition parties sought to characterise the idealistic President Moon Jae-Inn as a puppet of the Supreme Commander of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. Their calculation was that South Korean voters would turn away from President Moon because of his efforts at reviving the Sunshine Policy of some past leaders towards North Korea. Instead, the ruling party was returned to power with a comfortable majority. This shows that most of the South Korean electorate are in favour of better rather than tense relations with North Korea and that country’s Supreme Commander. In North Korea as well, large sections of the populace are reported by sources to admire Kim, and are hoping to “see him re-appear in public at an early date.
They feel enthused by visual images of Kim Jong Un, and are becoming apprehensive in view of his long absence” from public view. Such an absence has led to a flurry of theories about the problem. North Korean defectors (many of whom have not gone near that country for decades) claimed that the Supreme Commander suffered either a stroke or a heart attack, and that he has had a surgical procedure that has left him battling for life. Credible sources say that there was an assassination attempt on him by individuals who were regarded as being his supporters. This assassination attempt may, in the view of these sources, have entailed the use of biochemical weapons such as was used to kill Kim’s brother Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. It is known that North Korea has developed a sophisticated kit of such weapons in its underground laboratories, and there is speculation that Otto Warmbier was sent back to the US in June 2017 as a “living” (but soon to be dead) demonstration of North Korea’s bio-chemical weapon capabilities.
Whether Warmbier, who was captured a year ago while about to leave North Korea, was indeed the subject of such a still live demonstration of WMD prowess is unclear. What is obvious is that North Korea has a significant WMD stockpile that its leadership will not hesitate from using as and when deemed necessary. Another theory is that Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un is in seclusion in order to avoid getting infected with Covid-19. However, such a theory seems farfetched in view of the fact that he travelled to unfamiliar shores to meet with President Donald Trump, disregarding the views of some within the core leadership group that the Singapore meeting was a trap designed to cause him harm.
Lack of boldness has not been a characteristic of Kim Jong Un. If credible sources are to be believed, Kim has gone through some trauma but is under the care of his loving and capable sister and is expected to make a recovery such as would enable him to “appear in public and assuage the desire of those millions in the Korean peninsula who regard him as the hero” of a people that shares a part of its ancient traditions and lineage with India. A Bright Sunshine policy designed to improve the living standards of the North Korean people can bring stability to the peninsula. Weakened by the constant efforts at belittling him, President Trump seems unable to go ahead with such a policy, and is persisting with the Clinton-Obama policy of harsh sanctions. It may be remembered that President Clinton oversaw the deadly sanctions on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of babies in that unfortunate country during the period when Saddam Hussein was left in charge.
This despot of Iraq was permitted to continue to rule by President George H.W. Bush (who even allowed him to massacre Shia and Kurds despite a socalled No Fly zone) and later despatched to the afterlife by President George W. Bush. In the case of North Korea, it is clear that the present policy of crippling sanctions has failed except in making the lives of millions in North Korea miserable. However, President Moon is not being permitted by the US side to go ahead with efforts at ensuring a peaceful future for the entire peninsula. If those sources who say that the situation with regard to Kim (whether he will or will not return to his tasks) are correct, the situation regarding the North Korean Head of Government will become clear in a short time. They add that a return to work by Kim would ensure that both he as well as President Moon of South Korea can resume the “task of ensuring a stable peace in the Korean peninsula such that both sides join hands for prosperity”.