When a world leader is powerful and unpredictable, even their smallest actions can be a cause for concern. Kim Jong-Un has not been seen in public in two weeks, sparking concerns that he might be planning to test another intercontinental missile.
Jong-Un was last seen on July 30th, when he celebrated the testing of North Korea’s first intercontinental missile, the Hwasong-1. The last time Jong-Un disappeared for that long was in the two weeks before the test for the Hwasong-14, driving speculation that the North Korean leader may be preparing to test yet another missile.
The rumors are also being driven by footage from the American website 38 North, which released satellite images of a North Korean submarine base on August 14th. In the photo, tarps have been hung over the decks of the Sinpo-class submarine, so that it’s impossible to get an aerial view of what’s happening underneath. The last time this was done on a North Korean base was before the Pukguksong-1 test in 2016, leading analysts to believe that the North Korean military may be planning something similar right now.
Jong-Un recently threatened to attack the American territory of Guam, and a new North Korean propaganda video adds reinforcement to the threat.
The video, released August 22nd, shows President Trump standing in a cemetery, surrounded by flames.
As orchestral music plays in the background, the text overlay reads, “The fate of the US, with its many crimes, ends here.”
All of these facts, coupled with Jong-Un’s disappearance, may point towards an upcoming test. But this isn’t the only possible explanation for the missing leader.
Jong-Un’s health is poor, and he has previously disappeared from the public eye to recuperate.
In 2016, he went incognito for six weeks for what was believed to be health reasons, and in 2014 he missed the anniversary of the founding of the Worker’s Party because he was in an “uncomfortable physical condition.”
Jong-Un might also be fearful of an assassination attempt, like the one he accused South Korea and the US of planning back in May.
Hopefully, the North Korean leader is missing for one of these more innocuous reasons. But until Jong-Un reappears, it will be difficult to dispel nuclear fears.