North Korea broke a two-week hiatus in releasing directives personally signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday, Daily NK has learned. 

In normal times, Kim reportedly released these directives every Wednesday or Thursday to provincial party committees and government agencies, according to a Daily NK source in the country. 

Suspicions about something amiss with the North Korean leader have further been sparked by the fact that the format and tone of the Apr. 29 directive is different than before. 

While past directives usually contained seven or more specific orders, the Apr. 29 document contained only three orders. 

“The document released on Apr. 9, for example, had a total of 10 orders,” Daily NK’s source in the country explained. 

The Apr. 29 directive’s content was also more broad than usual, repeating familiar themes such as emphasis on the nation providing support for the construction of the Pyongyang General Hospital; a call to “energize” the activities of soldiers and the ordinary people; and ordering the “timely sowing of seeds” by the country’s agricultural workers.

Past directives were usually formatted so that the orders Kim had made verbally were listed along with the dates in parentheses denoting when they were handed down, but the Apr. 29 directive failed to follow this format. 

Moreover, none of the orders in the directive reflected Kim’s responses to proposals made by government agencies, which has usually been a feature of these documents. 

“No one in North Korea is allowed to reproduce the tone of Kim’s statements, which may explain why the directive is different than usual,” a former high-level North Korean government official told Daily NK. “If Kim has indeed relinquished his leadership duties over this period, it’s possible we’ll see various areas of the government move to fill the ‘governance gap.’” 

North Korean government officials who saw the directive on Apr. 29 think the tone and format is strange, but are refraining from publicly linking it with speculation surrounding Kim’s ill health. 

“A lot of people in Pyongyang hear news from the outside world, so they know that rumors are spreading [internationally] about Kim’s illness,” Daily NK’s source in North Korea said. 

“That doesn’t mean, however, that people will voice their opinions about such rumors out loud,” he added.

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to

Read in Korean

Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to