Kim Jong-un's death rumors resurface after dictator's symbolic emblem removed from North Korean TV shows

The North Korea leader has not been seen since a May 1 appearance at a fertilizer factory, and which was preceded by days of speculation that he was dead


                            Kim Jong-un's death rumors resurface after dictator's symbolic emblem removed from North Korean TV shows
(Getty Images)

Rumors of Kim Jong-un's death have resurfaced again after state television channels were seen removing the North Korean supremo's emblem from multiple shows about the leader. Speculations over his health were rife last month but were somewhat dispelled when he was seen appearing at a fertilizer plant on May 1, alongside his sister Kim Yo-jong, 

The missing emblem in question is composed of a marshal’s star and wreath. While it was absent on multiple shows, it was covered up in one segment - a 15-minute video on the country’s new year propaganda slogans - that airs daily on Korean Central Television (KCTV). According to NK News, the channel was airing footage that was edited between February 18 and 19. One possible explanation for the removal of the emblem could be due to the constitutional changes last year that nixed the term "Supreme Commander." Kim was referred to as the commander-in-chief following the changes. 

However, there were those who speculated if the removal of the symbol was a telltale sign that Kim may have passed away amid health concerns as his current whereabouts remain a heavily-guarded secret. 

"Well, maybe they used a look a like in the one photo recently released & he really is dead," wrote one user on Twitter, while another commented, "Its difficult to say whether #KimJungUn is dead or alive but there is something strange going on there."

Kim Jong-un arrives by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China on February 26, 2019 in Lang Son, Vietnam. (Getty Images)

Kim has not been seen since making the appearance on May 1, triggering another round of speculations of his well-being. North Korea quashed rumors that the dictator was in a vegetative state or dead after they released photos of him at a red-ribbon event on May 1. Though US intelligence has not been unable to verify the authenticity of the images, they have had no choice but to only guess that he is “probably” alive and well.

“He seems to be out and cutting ribbons on fertilizer factories,” White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters earlier this month. “So, you know, our thinking is he is probably doing well.” Nonetheless, he admitted that intelligence “can’t say one way or the other” if the recent “open source” photos of Kim were genuine. “We call it the hermit kingdom,” O’Brien said. “It’s very difficult to get information out of North Korea. They’re not very forthcoming with information, but they did release photos of him being alive and well and we assume that he is.”

Photos from the event sparked wild theories that he may have used a body double for the pictures that are yet to be verified. Human rights activist Jennifer Zeng was the first to point out the dissimilarities between the two “versions” of Kim, marking the differences in their teeth and ears. "Is the Kim Jong-un appearing on May 1 the real one?” she asked as she shared a side-by-side comparison of Kim’s “old and new” pictures at different events.

When he failed to make an appearance for the country's most important holiday which honors the founder of the nation, Kim II-sung, on April 15, rumors started going around about Kim's worsening health conditions. He also ended up missing the 88th anniversary of the armed forces, the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, on April 25. Meanwhile, the hashtag 'KimJongUnDead' started trending on Twitter without any proof of the leader passing away.

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