For some reason, we keep circling back to one series of questions when it comes to North Korea. Is their diminutive dictator Kim Jong-un alive or dead? Is he in control, or is his sister, Kim Yo-Jong in charge of the country now? What’s going on?

This week we may have gotten at least a hint of the answers to those questions. Kim has gone public with an announcement of a new campaign to boost the North Korean economy in advance of their next ruling party congress in January where they are expected to roll out the nation’s next five-year plan. Prior to that, there will be a military parade where Kim is expected to feature their latest military technology, including advanced ICBMs capable of carrying out strikes all the way across the Pacific. But is this really Kim doing the talking? It’s still hard to say. (NY Post)

Ahead of a military parade in which he may unveil his latest weaponry, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered an 80-day national campaign to boost the ailing economy.

Kim made his demand at a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Monday amid a tough year for the Hermit Kingdom as the COVID-19 pandemic puts more pressure on an economy battered by recent storms.

“We have performed historical feats with our costly efforts, boldly overcoming unprecedentedly grave trials and difficulties this year, but we should not rest on our laurels,” he said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

As usual, we’re seeing a parade of lies from the chubby tyrant in advance of the celebrations. His statements (assuming he actually made them) imply that he still has the novel coronavirus pandemic well under control. This claim has been repeated by the regime constantly despite scattered reports from Asian media indicating that thousands of their own soldiers have died of the virus and a much larger number have been quarantined. How many civilians in the vast majority of the nation that has no electricity or media access that have died remains unknown.

It’s not as if the country doesn’t have the cash to spend and resources to invest. Kim has continually poured the country’s limited assets into continuing to expand its nuclear capabilities and more and more advanced intercontinental delivery systems. And it’s obviously not cheap to keep all of the nation’s dissidents in concentration camps where they are worked to death, Despite all of this, the state media continues to assert that Kim is looking for a peaceful resolution of disputes with the western world.

So is it possible that Kim’s health is relatively stable and all of the rumors about his plans to prepare Kim Yo-Jong for a transition to power were just a feint? Who can say? But the upcoming military parade may give us some additional answers. In the past, Kim has shown up for all of these parades, eager to be seen on state media broadcasts as a power-player on the international stage, cowing the west with his formidable military hardware. If he doesn’t show up and his sister somehow poses for the photo ops, something is definitely amiss in the hermit kingdom.

But if Kim is there and looks reasonably healthy, there are two possibilities to consider. One is that he actually did suffer a serious medical emergency, but has come out the other side of it with a decent prognosis. The other is that he engineered all of this to throw international intelligence agencies off the trail to disguise his location and activities. Given our history with Kim, would either of them be much of a surprise? But one thing seems certain. Kim Jong-un was never dealing from the top of the deck with President Donald Trump and we likely shouldn’t waste much more time or effort into getting some sort of comprehensive peace agreement with him. The tyrant of North Korea is a madman and he simply can’t be trusted.