Pyongyang has finally responded to persistent rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has had plastic surgery to look like his revered grandfather, issuing an angry denial criticizing the “sordid” media reports.
Speculation that Kim’s resemblance to the country’s founder of former leader, Kim Il-sung, is not 100 percent natural has been around for some time, though supported by little or no evidence.
The rumors have been partly fed by the widely held perception that Kim Jong-un has sought to evoke memories of his grandfather in numerous ways, such as through his dress, haircut, gestures and public appearances.
The a clear physical resemblance has fueled reports of plastic surgery and Pyongyang’s patience with the gossip appears to have run out.
“The false report ... released by enemies is a hideous criminal act which the party, state, army and people can never tolerate,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary on Wednesday.
Insisting that the very idea of Kim Jong-un, who is in his late 20s, undergoing plastic surgery was “unimaginable,” KCNA flatly rejected what it described as “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.”
While the focus of the commentary’s fury was the South Korean media, it seems that Pyongyang’s anger was triggered by a Chinese media report last week that was widely picked up by newspapers in the South.
China’s Shenzhen TV cited a diplomatic source who said he had spoken to a North Korean official on a private visit to Pyongyang who had confirmed the plastic surgery rumors.
KCNA referenced the Chinese report, but saved its real vitriol for the South Korean newspapers.
“Those hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the nation should not expect any mercy or leniency,” it said.
“Time will clearly show what dear price the human scum and media in the service of traitors of South Korea, slaves of capital, will have to pay,” it added.