Kim’s Ankle Injury Rumor Spreads in NK

Amid speculation and theories among the international media
about Kim Jong Eun’s health concerns due to his 37-day absence from the public eye, sources within North Korea report that the most prevalent rumor
within the nation to be that the leader has undergone surgery on his left ankle.

“Lately the main talk among the residents is that the
General has had surgery on his left ankle,” a source in Yangan Province
reported to Daily NK on October 10th. “I don’t know where the rumor got started, but most everyone is saying ‘the General hurt his foot so he’s getting
surgery.’” The source noted that no theories have been projected as to the
underlying cause of the injury.

As Kim Jong-eun’s prolonged sabbatical continues, rumors are
spreading like wildfire throughout the country. “At one
point, word [of the surgery] made its rounds through the merchants in the markets, and now,
it is not uncommon to hear it in the farming villages,” she said.

Once specifics about the injury affecting only Kim’s left
ankle were introduced into the rumor,  many residents determined that the
theory was no longer gossip and deemed it to be fact. In addition, the film aired
just last month on September 26th, by state-run Chosun Central TV, featuring Kim Jong Eun with a pronounced limp, fueled further speculation about
the leader’s health; as a result, an increased number of residents have stated
that “the information about the General undergoing ankle surgery is most
certain.”

“The fact that neither Rodong Sinmun or broadcasts are
reporting on the General’s current condition has led many to assume that he has
indeed received surgery,” she said. This was further bolstered by the fact that contrary to past years, Rodong Sinmun made no mention of the leader’s “compassion” during the 69th
anniversary of the Chosun Workers’ Party on October 10th.

Moreover, the  Kim Jong Eun era has seen a strong
emphasis on presenting the nation as a sports powerhouse. In any other case, he
would have likely appeared publicly to welcome home the Asian Games
athletes home and praise their “athletic exploits.” However, his absence at events celebrating their victories supports the rumors surrounding his
alleged ankle surgery.

“Even if the rumor is true, residents don’t seem too deeply
concerned about it. Since the fall harvest has begun, they are more worried
about the size of the food rations that they will be receiving through the
Public Distribution System,” the source concluded.

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Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.