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article imageOp-Ed: Was Kim Jong-il really on a train?

By Gar Swaffar     Dec 22, 2011 in Politics
Korean peninsula politics are an extremely complicated matter of intrigue, duplicity and occasionally just outright lies. Was Kim Jong-Il really on a train when he died? Or laying in bed?
One of the South Korean newspapers, The Chosun Ilbo, raises the question of just where Kim Sr. shuffled off this mortal coil. The rationale for the claim that Kim Sr. wasn't really on his custom train is difficult to fault from the perspective of Kim Jong-il's habits and his supposed penchant for being a night person, rather than one who enjoys rising at the crack of dawn.
The official story line as reported both world wide and at Digital Journal suggests that he died at 8:30 A.M.local time, which is one problem with the official report.
Then also, Kim was supposed to be traveling to a 'field inspection' during a morning when the temperature was hovering at -12 deg. Celsius. Kim had already been previously diagnosed with and treated for cardiovascular disease and a probable heart attack. With cold weather causing problems for persons with major heart disease issues, it does seem unlikely his doctors would have been willing to recommend an early morning trip on Kim's armored train, despite having four cars on the train outfitted as a hospital.
The third item in the rationale for Kim having died peacefully in his bed, is the revelation from Won Sei-hoon, the South Korean National Intelligence Service Director, that Kim Jong-il's specially outfitted and armored train didn't leave the train station on that weekend. Which even by itself would seem to be a deal-breaker.
And fourth on the list of arguable speculation is the entourage Kim Jong-il normally traveled with during his forays into the countryside. The complete train consists of twenty rail cars and apparently they were often filled with hundreds of people, including both bodyguards and medical staff. A separate train with security personnel always traveled in advance of Kim Sr. to make certain of the trackage before the "Dear Leader" would risk his life on what many describe as the crumbling infrastructure of North Korea.
Would it have been possible, even in North Korea to have kept so many people perfectly quiet for so long?
From an admittedly ill informed perspective (who can truly be said to be well informed with regards to North Korea?) the possibility of Kim having died in his sleep does have a certain logic to it. The question then becomes one of just why bother to lie about the death of the nations leader?
The position put forth by an unidentified South Korean official is: "Death on the train is possibly the best story that the North Korean regime can use to promote Kim as a hardworking leader who worked for the people until the moment he died. North Koreans would feel there's a huge difference between an easy and peaceful death in his bed and death at work far from home."
And certainly that would present a better picture for the regime change which was about to take place, particularly since Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jon Un had relatively little time to strengthen his position the way his father had done.
One unnamed North Korean defector suggests the poor perception by the North Korean people of their leader had much to do with the charade: "Unlike when Kim Il-sung died, North Koreans have virtually no respect for Kim Jong-il. The regime must have felt the need to make his death look better and find a way to glorify him."
The actual truth is very unlikely to ever make its way to the light of day, the control of the government of North Korea over the people of the very secretive nation is nearly absolute. The only possible hope for any portion of the real facts to be brought out, will be another defector or defectors. And even then, the veracity of those making the claims would be simple to refute by the officials of North Korea. It may simply be another of those unsolved mysteries such as the full details behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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