As a result, South Korean and international intelligence agencies have been observing Kim’s health closely for some time, particularly since the stroke, and are apparently confident that he has recovered to the extent of being able to carry out his daily tasks. However, it is widely rumored that he has been left lacking in judgment and with a much depleted memory. Indeed, a high official in the South Korean administration publicly asserted precisely that last year, adding that Kim is prone to talking completely illogically.
On this note, a source in China well-acquainted with the North Korean authorities introduced a few stories to The Daily NK.
First, the source described how a college’s name got changed, twice. In 2003, the North Korean media began reporting the name of what was Heecheon College of Technology in Jagang Province as Heechon College of Communications, but in 2009 suddenly began reporting the original name again.
The source said, “Kim Jong Il ordered the authorities to change the name to Heecheon College of Communications from Heechon College of Technology in 2003. However, when he visited there again in 2009, he couldn’t remember that fact and got angry, saying, ‘Who changed the College of Technology, which was named by the Suryeong (Kim Il Sung), to the College of Communications in such an inappropriate way for our times?’ Angrily, he handed down a new instruction, ‘Change the name back to Heecheon College of Technology without delay.’”
Even worse, in late 2009 Kim appears to have forgotten that his father had passed away 15 years earlier. According to the source, “In December, 2009 when he visited Sungjin Steel Manufacturing Complex in Kim Chaek, North Hamkyung Province, Kim received a report on the ‘Completion of the process for the manufacturing of Juche steel.’ Taking up the report, he said, ‘Report this fact immediately to the Suryeong!’ The people there were totally embarrassed.”
The source also revealed the unusual backdrop to images of Kim smoking in Hoiryeong Cigarette Factory in 2009.
Despite having revealed in 2001 that he had quit smoking, saying, “Smoking is like a gun aimed at your heart,” in February, 2009, Rodong Shinmun published photos of Kim smoking in the Hoiryeong factory. At the time, the international and South Korean media interpreted his actions as an attempt to show off his recovery from the stroke of little more than 6 months previously. However, the source explained that the truth was quite different, saying, “It was because Kim Jong Il was boasting about smoking, having forgotten the fact that he had quit!”
Finally, the source explained the incident whereby the Chairman of the Central Broadcasting Committee, Cha Seung Su, was fired, as reported by RFA in August last year.
Cha was responsible for releasing an advertisement for Taedonggang Beer on TV in what Kim Jong Il considered an unacceptably “capitalist way” in August, 2009, and was dismissed from his post as a result. However, “In May, 2010, right after his visit to China, Kim Jong Il called Cha directly, got angry at the news of his dismissal and then ordered his reinstatement.”
As a result of their leader’s failing judgment, the source added that, understandably, “Cadres in Pyongyang are uneasy at Kim Jong Il’s unpredictable behavior.”
He explained, “Evidence of Kim Jong Il’s mental situation has been spreading despite the authorities’ complete control over information. This is partly because cadres who have witnessed it talk about his behavior with others, so the secrets continue to spread.”