Sunday, Oct 19, 2008
North Korean diplomats abroad have been ordered to stay close to their embassies and await an “important announcement,” according to a Japanese newspaper.
The news has prompted speculation that North Korea’s officials are to be informed that “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il has died or that Pyongyang is carrying out its threat to sever all ties with South Korea.
Despite supporting Washington’s decision to revoke Pyongyang’s status of a supporter of terrorism, Seoul has incurred the North’s anger over what it sees as hardline policies.
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An announcement is expected within the next two days, but Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Waseda University, believes it may not be related to Kim’s health.
“If he was dead, the North Koreans would have sealed the borders and not be letting anyone in or out, just as they did when his father, Kim Il-sung, died,” he said.
The rumours circulating that Kim is dead have caused instability in North Korea’s diplomatic corps, Professor Shigemura said, and the announcement may very well be a carefully worded instruction to remain loyal to the regime or have the diplomats’ families still in North Korea face the consequences.
This article was posted: Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 3:34 am