SEOUL – North Korea has finally responded to persistent rumors that leader Kim Jong Un had plastic surgery to look like his revered grandfather, issuing an angry denial criticizing what it called “sordid” media reports.
Speculation that Kim’s resemblance to the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, is not 100 percent natural has been around for some time, though with little or no supporting evidence. The rumors have been partly fed by the undeniable fact that Kim has sought to evoke memories of his grandfather in numerous ways, through his dress, haircut, gestures and public appearances.
Though there is a clear physical resemblance, Pyongyang’s patience with reports of plastic surgery appears to have now run out.
“The false report . . . released by enemies is a hideous criminal act that the party, state, army and people can never tolerate,” the official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday. Insisting that the very idea of Kim, who is in his late 20s, undergoing plastic surgery is “unimaginable,” KCNA flatly rejected what it described as the “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.”
While the focus of the commentary’s fury was the South Korean media, it seems Pyongyang’s anger was triggered by a report by China’s Shenzhen TV last week that cited a diplomatic source who had spoken to a North Korean official, who confirmed the plastic surgery rumors.