Is Kim Jong Il dead? Yes, North Korea’s “Dear Leader” is no more, having passed away in the fall of 2003, writes Waseda University professor
Toshimitsu Shigemura in Shukan Gendai (Aug 23-30).
A one-time Mainichi Shimbun journalist posted in Seoul, Shigemura is introduced by the magazine as a leading authority on the Korean Peninsula. His latest book, released this month, is titled “The True Character of Kim Jong Il.”
If true, the implications are potentially vast. Among them: former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s summit partner during one or both of his landmark visits to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 was not Kim himself but a dummy — the stand-in Shigemura claims has been fooling the world for at least five years.
A dictator having one or multiple doubles is a familiar notion since Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was shown to have deployed them. But Saddam was alive at the time. Kim, in Shigemura’s scenario, was not manipulating a look-alike; he was replaced by one.