Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is reporting the story they never thought they would be sharing with the globe, and one they never wanted to. Kim Jong-un’s mentor Hyon Chol-Hae has died as a result of multiple organ failures. This has left Kim in a fit of despair as he searches for answers.
As KCNA has also reported, Kim and North Kore as a whole are dealing with not the loss of Hyon, but with their first reported cases of COVID since the pandemic struck the globe over two years ago. Given the propensity for COVID to cause organ failure, this might explain why Kim chose now to publicly admit that North Korea hasn’t been able to keep COVID out of the country. The death of such a close confidant would drive most over the edge.
Hyon was a marshal most widely known for being the bodyguard for Kim Jong-un’s grandfather during the Korean War, and as such held a noble position in the Korean military. He is also listed as being responsible for the grooming of Kim Jong-Un as he prepared to take the throne as the leader of North Korea. Given all that he as meant to North Korea, it’s no surprise Kim was saddened by his death.
Seen carrying the coffin with a stone face, Kim wore no mask, gently touching the coffin while burying it and placing sand atop of it. He became visibly upset at the mourning of this mentor. Afterward, he met with his inner circle of Politburo Presidium, but no topics of discussion have been identified.
Many have rumored that it was Hyon who has been the driving force behind keeping Kim restrained from trying to attack South Korea, Japan, and the US. With his untimely death, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the future of North Korea as well as the mental stability of Kim without his rock there by his side. The two have shared a deep relationship his entire life and holding a noble position within the military speaks very highly for his position in the regime.
Almost as if this would prevent his death, Kim has been waging war on COVID through lockdowns and restrictions across the hermit kingdom. While he is often seen without a mask, it helps to keep the narrative of him being a supreme being built up in the minds of his people. While the country is reeling and 2.8 million have already contracted the virus, a shockingly low 68 people have died from COID in North Korea. While this won’t bring Hyon back, it will allow Kim to sleep well at night knowing he has done his best.
The North Korean government has been a failure of different proportions since the Korean War ended. While early on there was some promise to the regime and its goals, over the last 40 years it has gone downhill. It started its failure at first going slowly, it has sped up over time, and now the regime is starting to get into a tailspin it may not recover from.
The last two years have taken a nation from having limited trade to having none. The food that was being brought in has ended, and they lack the supplies, climate, and resources to be completely self-sufficient. As a nation, the people of North Korea are losing out every time they try to do something. Currently, they cannot even properly test for COVID, and they have rejected numerous offers for vaccinations.
There is a small silver lining to this whole thing. It might push Kim just enough to admit that he has failed and that the last 69 years of keeping his people hidden away from the world is enough. While highly unlikely, the possibility is increased with the reality check COVID has dealt the regime.