Green Room

Great news: Kim Jong-un’s uncle probably not executed by 120 hungry dogs. We think.

posted at 2:18 pm on January 3, 2014 by

Probably not. That rumor swept the Twittertubes of late, but it’s based on an unsourced report from one of Hong Kong’s least-reliable tabloids, which is somewhat akin to being one of Barack Obama’s least-credible promises. Max Fisher explains:

If you’ve been on the Internet at all today, you’ve almost certainly seen the story claiming that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed last month by stripping him naked and feeding him to 120 hungry dogs. The story was first reported by a minor Hong Kong outlet on Dec. 12, was picked up by a Singaporean newspaper on Dec. 24 and since late Thursday has been sweeping through nearly every corner of the U.S. media. The only problem is that it’s probably – probably – not true.

It was indeed a big surprise last month when South Korean intelligence revealed that Kim had purged his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek, which North Korea confirmed a couple of days later with a long screed in its state media. The highly public nature of the purge, which ended with Pyongyang announcing Jang’s execution, was totally unprecedented and legitimately shocking, which is a high bar for North Korea news.

Crazy-sounding stories happen with some frequency in North Korea, where the government has a well-earned reputation for taking political punishments to medieval extremes. But there are five big reasons that this story just does not seem particularly plausible. The fact that the Western media have so widely accepted a story they would reject if it came out of any other country tells us a lot about how North Korea is covered — and how it’s misunderstood.

Jang most likely met his end with a firing squad or some other more modern execution method, which makes him just as dead. Or maybe …

“Bottom line is: unlikely but I can’t rule it out,” O’Carroll, whose NKNews site is known for its sober and careful coverage of North Korea, acknowledged. “While this one definitely feels exaggerated, who knows? With North Korea’s KCNA publishing films showing the destruction of effigies of [former South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak by hungry dogs last year, and of course publishing several cartoons depicting the gruesome death of the same president, at least parts of the story could be within the realm of true. Don’t forget the North Koreans even hosted competitions last year to think up the most gruesome way to kill ‘Traitor’ [Lee Myung-bak]; the prize? The winner could carry out that particular death sentence!”

Be sure to read all of Fisher’s lengthy — and entertaining — essay.

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Relax!

It’s just a PR stunt for intimidation purposes.

Kim Jung Un and his guests were just watching the weekly “death by hungry dogs” of the usual political undesirables …

… while snacking on pate de fois oncle

And a wretched meritage wine from Kim’s private vinyard.

PolAgnostic on January 3, 2014 at 2:26 PM

North Korea makes Cuba look good.

Good thing the guy didn’t get caught using an illegal light bulb.

That gets you weasels instead of dogs.

Byron on January 3, 2014 at 2:40 PM

The only problem is that it’s probably – probably – not true.

But plausible enough – because the nephew is just that ruthless – that they can’t rule it out altogether.

aunursa on January 3, 2014 at 2:49 PM

If true, it is an example of capital punishment going to the dogs.

If false, it is an example of news reporting going to the dogs.

I believe it is more likely to be a false report. For it to be true there would have to be 120 dogs gathered together in one spot in North Korea.

I don’t believe you could get that many dogs together. Some starving North Korean would have grabbed one or two for supper because one or two would not be missed. Then another starving North Korean would have taken a couple (because just one or two would not be missed), and then another and another, and pretty soon you don’t have enough dogs left in the pack.

And yes, Koreans do eat dogs. I asked a friend from Korea about it and he said they did. When I asked him what kind of dogs get eaten, he smiled and said “slow ones.”

No Truce With Kings on January 3, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Thank goodness!

The White House Dog-Eater was so unnerved by the very concept that he could not see the delicious irony of ‘Dog eats Korean’ and his golf game was suffering for the angst.

M240H on January 3, 2014 at 3:01 PM

It’s a new Nork Reality Show, The Dogfood Whisperer.

cartooner on January 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM

In Korea, dog eats leaders.

In America, leader eats dogs.

In Russia, leader laughs at Korean and American dog stories.

Fallon on January 3, 2014 at 3:20 PM

I thought they preferred using mortars.
But maybe Dennis Rodman gave them some new ideas, so they’re just trying to mix it up a bit and make the weekly executions more of a variety show….

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2014 at 4:06 PM

No, they only do that for the poor starving children and women in the reeducation camps.

AshleyTKing on January 3, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Spoilsport. Ruined a perfectly good Norm story.

NeighborhoodCatLady on January 3, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Nork story. D****** auto-correct.

NeighborhoodCatLady on January 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Spoilsport. Ruined a perfectly good Norm story.

NeighborhoodCatLady on January 3, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Norm was killed by an exceptionally long Cliff Clavin dissertation.
;)

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Alternate headline: “We’ll see how loyal a hungry dog really is”

It’s about sending a message: everything burns.

Nork story. D****** auto-correct.

NeighborhoodCatLady on January 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM

No, I think “Norm story” is also correct:

“NORM!”
“Whaddya know, Norm?”
“It’s a dog-eat-dog world, Woody, and I’m wearing Jang Song Thaek underwear.”

The Schaef on January 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

The Schaef on January 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Bravo.

Rest in pieces, Norm.

NeighborhoodCatLady on January 3, 2014 at 4:31 PM

The Schaef on January 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Beautiful!
I just could not come up with the right wording quick enough.

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2014 at 4:37 PM

“NORM!”
“Whaddya know, Norm?”
“It’s a dog-eat-dog world, Woody, and I’m wearing Jang Song Thaek underwear.”

The Schaef on January 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

THREAD WINNER!!!

Bubba Redneck on January 3, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Great news: Kim Jong-un’s uncle probably not executed by 120 hungry dogs.

…Kimmy…should not call…his people “dogs”…

KOOLAID2 on January 3, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I kinda doubted that 120 uneaten dogs could be found in North Korea. If there were that many dogs, they would already be starving and wouldn’t need to have food withheld for three days.

kozmocostello on January 3, 2014 at 6:14 PM

he may not be dead at all. not that it matters.

if in a prison camp, he just as good as dead. they won’t be able to let him near any of the other inmates..he knows too much about the outside world.

warhorse_03826 on January 3, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Wonder what a 120 dog execution looks like?!

The Nerve on January 3, 2014 at 10:42 PM

It’s obviously impossible on its face.

First, to say “hungry dogs” in North Korea is a redundancy of the first order.

Second, two dogs in North Korea rapidly would have been converted into that nation’s version of bul go go go. The idea that there were 120 of them available outside of pots in the People’s Cafeterias is nuts.

Hat tip to Michelle Obama for the her veggie version of dog-bul go go.

doufree on January 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Bul go gi

Fooking auto-correct.

doufree on January 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM

One of the first things he did when he came to power was have his ex girlfriend executed by machine guns so it would not surprise me. He ordered a general executed “without a trace” so they used mortar rounds. No telling with this maniac.

crosspatch on January 4, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Great news: Kim Jong-un’s uncle probably not executed by 120 hungry dogs. We think.

Gee what happened?

Did they find that nyt exhibitionistjournalist Dave “kinky” Kirkpatrick played a part in the original story? :D

BigSven on January 5, 2014 at 6:17 AM

What must be asked is why such a disparaging story is running in a very pro-Beijing party newspaper?

The article is designed to send a message from the PRC to the DPRK.

This region will be very problematic over the coming year.

R Square on January 5, 2014 at 8:29 AM

Great news! The Worm is taking an All-Star team to NorK to play a game and improve international relations with Li’l Kim.

And after the game, the team will be fed to 130 starving dogs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/04/dennis-rodman-team-north-korea-nba-players_n_4542250.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl12%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D426910

Philly on January 5, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Starving dogs. Or, as they’re known in North Korea: “dogs”.

Seriously. If they even had dogs in North Korea, wouldn’t they just eat them?

The real question here is why we don’t have any zany Taiwanese animation of this news story.

TexasDan on January 6, 2014 at 12:16 AM

But maybe Dennis Rodman gave them some new ideas

dentarthurdent on January 3, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Maybe he’s been chatting with Michael Vick?

Seriously, though, the one thing that got my attention was that the “minor HK outlet” is supposedly one that does dirty work for the Chinese admin. It publishes stories to achieve certain ends. Doesn’t mean it’s not a hoax, but the real question is “Why do they want people thinking this?”

GWB on January 6, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Actually, he was eaten by 1,000 rats, including the pack leader, Ben Jong il.

/tear him up!

Ward Cleaver on January 6, 2014 at 10:20 AM