He’s aliiiive!!!

It's alive!

No, not him. Him:

Ma Won Chun

Ma Won Chun, the architect that Kim Jong Un supposedly had executed back  in November of last year because he didn’t like his latest airport design. In fact, he’s alive and well and, according to KCNA, wandering round Rason in KJU’s entourage.

This is the latest in a long line of miraculous North Korean resurrections, and the reasons for the phenomenon are various.

a) The reports are based on sketchy rumours coming out of North Korea, and thus not super-reliable. Another story had Ma dying of a heart attack upon being summoned to visit the dear leader. Other tales merely suggested that he had been purged. Which leads us to a second point:

b) A lot of people – even within the media and among Asia specialists – tend to see the word “purged”, but read the word “executed”. I assume that this is a hangover from the Moscow trials. In fact, the two are not the same thing. Kim Jong Un is, in fact, unusual in that he does execute a reasonable proportion of the people he purges. Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, by contrast, tended to use purges more as a political naughty step. After a few months in the wilderness and a self-criticism session or two, you’d generally be let back into the party. (Rumour has it that Margaret Thatcher used the post of Northern Ireland Secretary in much the same way.)

c) North Korean rumours are picked up and embellished by South Korean tabloids (this means you, Chosun Ilbo). The Western media then gets them from the Chosun Ilbo website, and reprints them as gospel truth.

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