N Korea's Kim died in 2003; replaced by lookalike, says Waseda professor

Is Kim Jong Il dead? Yes, North Korea’s “Dear Leader” is no more, having passed away in the fall of 2003, writes Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura in Shukan Gendai (Aug 23-30).

A one-time Mainichi Shimbun journalist posted in Seoul, Shigemura is introduced by the magazine as a leading authority on the Korean Peninsula. His latest book, released this month, is titled “The True Character of Kim Jong Il.”

If true, the implications are potentially vast. Among them: former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s summit partner during one or both of his landmark visits to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 was not Kim himself but a dummy—the stand-in Shigemura claims has been fooling the world for at least five years.

A dictator having one or multiple doubles is a familiar notion since Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was shown to have deployed them. But Saddam was alive at the time. Kim, in Shigemura’s scenario, was not manipulating a look-alike; he was replaced by one.

Of course it’s fantastic—but in North Korea, says Shigemura, fantasy and reality are not mutually exclusive. “Japanese common sense cannot take the measure of North Korea’s uniqueness,” he writes. “For example: Kim came to Tokyo six times in the 1980s.”

Then as now, North Korea and Japan had no diplomatic ties. Kim, then heir to the throne under his father, “Great Leader” Kim Il Sung, apparently traveled incognito by ship. His purpose: to take in the magic shows staged by magician Hikita Tenko at the upscale Cordon Bleu show pub in Akasaka.

Shigemura cites as sources (without naming them) several people close to Kim’s family. He hears from them that Kim’s diabetes took a turn for the worse early in 2000. From then until his supposed death three and a half years later he was confined to a wheelchair.

Was the flurry of diplomatic activity in which the world saw Kim engaged during those years mere sleight of hand?  The “hermit kingdom” seemed all of a sudden to grow remarkably outgoing. In June 2000 Kim hosted the historic summit with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung.  The following month, he received Russian President Vladimir Putin. In October his guest was U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In January 2001 he visited China; in August, Russia. In September 2002 there occurred the first summit with Koizumi, culminating in Kim’s admission, after decades of denial from Pyongyang, that North Korean agents had kidnapped Japanese nationals.  August 2003 saw the launch of the Six Party talks aimed at North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

“Then suddenly,” writes Shigemura in Shukan Gendai, “the pace slows.”

The second Kim-Koizumi summit, in 2004, lasted all of 90 minutes. Scheduled meetings with other foreign dignitaries were abruptly canceled. Kim’s retreat from the public eye was almost total. State television in October 2003 showed him touring a collective farm, but mention of the date of the visit was conspicuously absent.

Kim’s family, meanwhile, was in a state of upheaval. His wife died—of breast cancer, said official reports; assassinated, according to persistent rumors. His favorite sister, a high-ranking Communist Party official, suddenly moved to Paris. Her husband lost his post. Clearly something was afoot.

In the spring of 2006, says Shigemura, American spy satellites succeeded in photographing Kim. An analysis of the photographs led to an astonishing conclusion: Kim had grown 2.5 cm!

“Recently,” Shigemura proceeds, “someone who was in contact with a Kim family member told me he heard the family member say, ‘There’s been a promise not to decide on Kim’s successor so long as the current shogun is alive.’”

“‘Shogun’ was Kim’s nickname,” Shigemura explains “If Kim were alive, the family member would simply have said, ‘the shogun’—not ‘the current shogun.’ The stress on ‘current’ seems to suggest that the person in question is someone other than Kim Jong Il.”

Shukan Gendai asks a government official who helped plan Koizumi’s Pyongyang visits what he thinks of all this. His reply: “Rumors of a dummy Kim began circulating after the summit. Some of us said we should have Kim’s voice prints analyzed. But if we did that and proved the prime minister had been conferring with a double,  it could have destroyed the Koizumi administration. So we didn’t proceed.”

  • 0

    Beelzebub

    If this rumor is true, it just goes to show that Kim was such a malignant character, North Koreans are still starving and suffering at the hands of his impersonator.

  • 0

    franz75

    Beelzebub: this indicates that they have nothing to replace him now. Too many people. The problem is not the "impersonator" but puppet masterS that have everything too lose if the regime changes

  • 0

    shugotokumaru

    I think they replaced Kim with a silly Waseda professor.

  • 0

    timeon

    I don't think I read about any piece of evidence for this professor's fantasies, except some satellite photo who gives a 2.5 cm error. obviously Mr. Shigemura is desperate for some publicity for his book

  • 0

    LIBERTAS

    Dictators come and go. Oppression always remains. (Quote: Me!)

  • 0

    ExPrinceska

    Nonsense

  • 0

    Nessie

    He's with dead Paul working on a remix of "Hey Jude." To be called "Hey Juche."

  • 0

    Badsey

    Kim Jong iLLL. --> Kim Jong 4 will be better.

    Some people don't like sequals and another reason people think Koreans are bizarre.

  • 0

    cracaphat

    JT is running out of legitimate news stories with this cock and bull.

  • 0

    chardk1

    Uh, but wouldn't the Korean and American officials (like Chris Hill) who have seen and talked with him over the past eight years be able to tell it's not the same guy? Just because the Japanese haven't been dealing with him on a regular basis doesn't mean NOBODY has.

    Also, supposedly the evidence is that North Korea became suddenly belligerent and uncooperative after 2003. But then how does one explain its current, more concilatory behavior? Did Kim Jong Il come back to life?

    Spy satellites can tell Kim Jong Il has dimensionally grown one inch and is not just wearing elevator shoes (which he has done for years) but they can't find Osama?

  • 0

    Badsey

    NK leads the World in human cloning technology: -Just thank God they are not sharing this technology with the rest of the World. -Imagine having 20 George Bushes.

  • 0

    buggerlugs

    just loved the phrase "Japanese common sense"

  • 0

    ProudKoreanGuy

    NK leads the World in human cloning technology: -Just thank God they are not sharing this technology with the rest of the World. -Imagine having 20 George Bushes.

    And NK hired Hwang Woo-Suk to do the cloning. :p

  • 0

    rajakumar

    Kim left north korea for secret exile in unknown city , with huge stash of money. Also can be good story to tell.

  • 0

    cwhite

    Japan had kagemusha's over the ages why not N.Korea.

  • 0

    noborito

    Waseda hires some serious quacks. The professor should get out more. Years and years of talking to air have put a tole on this poor souls brain. Retirement is meant for exactly this kind of warped, conspiracy theory brains. Very sad press for Waseda.

  • 0

    nahummer

    Impossible, no, unlikely, yes. I know he's reclusive, but it would be nice to have better proof than a satellite image that somehow shows he's grown and somebody saying an extra word, current. Dictators have a habit of sticking around longer than you'd expect. http://theendisalwaysnear.blogspot.com/2008/08/old-revolutionaries-die-hard-sometimes.html

  • 0

    FreedomFries

    Absolute trash. Complete conspiracy theory codswallop. Many meeting have been made with Kim by many nations, and noone noticed?

    If anyone believes this, they are dumb enough to believe Saddam didnt have WMDs.

  • 0

    soldave

    How do we know this Toshimitsu Shigemura is really who he says? He may have been kidnapped by the LDP, killed and then replaced with a lookalike who spouts things like Kim Jong Il died 5 years ago and is being replaced by an actor.

  • 0

    apecNetworks

    I don't know the status of DPRK's leader, Kim Jong II, but twins and look-alikes are used extensively in international affairs. It helps getting pass airport security, allows maintenance of residence where none exists. I have been exposed to at least two twins in the last 15years, both working in some capacity w/ the US Govt. 99% would not notice unless trained to discern small differences, nor unaware of what questions to ask to confirm the scheme. Thus, it would follow that many leaders in many high tension countries would use a double for many reasons - example: Saddam Hussein who collaborated w/ a well known US Agency.

  • 0

    meanmutha

    yep, baka

  • 0

    PepinGalarga

    it would take any 12-year zit faced kid with face and voice recognition software to prove this true or false. dont need to make this conspiracy bull.

  • 0

    usaexpat

    It sounds like conspiracy theory to me but than again NK is so secretive and Kim Jong Il has such a personality cult that it could just be true. At the end of the day it doesn't matter becuase the country is running the same way and is still a threat to its neighbors.

  • 0

    ca1ic0cat

    didn't Kurosawa do a movie based on this idea? Kagemusha, I think it was. But seriously:

    "former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s summit partner during one or both of his landmark visits to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 was not Kim himself but a dummy—the stand-in"

    What's the difference between the real dear little leader and a dummy anyway?

  • 0

    faulcon

    Paul McCartney was replaced at the end of 1966 by a look-alike, so why not Kim Jong Ill?

  • 0

    tkoind2

    I think it is possible. Check voice tracks, body build and DNA if they have access to old samples. Prove it one way or the other.

    In the end it doesn't matter anyway. The people pulling the strings if he is dead or alive are going to be pretty much the same.

  • 0

    romulus3

    I wonder if the impostor gets to score Kims woman, drink his cognac and roll in his benz? If so romulus would like a chance to double as a new and much more handsome Kim. The plot could be that kim needed a full body and facial reconstruction after a mishap involving french plonk, some snort, two naked female contortionists, a trapeze artist and a 10th story balcony.

  • 0

    romulus3

    oh, and some fireworks..

  • 0

    Quirinus3

    I doubt very much that this could be true. Someone would have noticed by now. Mind you Quirinus wouldn`t mind taking his place, to get hold of some of his luxuries.

  • 0

    ca1ic0cat

    romulus, if you do get the job as body double can I take up as heir apparent?

  • 0

    romulus3

    ca1ic0cat,

    your on. I will share my finest concubines and cognac with you and just so you wont make any assignation attempts, you will be under constant but friendly guard. A dictator can never be to paranoid, even if he is just a double.

  • 0

    chardk1

    I think the point is not so much that it is insane to think Kim Jong Il might have died and was replaced by a fake, but that the "evidence" given is so laughable.

    The people who say "lots of dictators use doubles" yes, to avoid assassinations and the like. Generally less of a concern once you are dead. Also, Kim Jong Il has numerous sons and they're still kicking around in places like Paris and Tokyo, wouldn't their behavior reflect some change if their father the dictator had died and power seized by a fake?

  • 0

    ca1ic0cat

    that's right romulus, as Stalin once said, "I trust nobody; not even myself"

    Interestingly the theory is that Stalin was poisoned by members of the politbureau after he let slip that there was going to be another "reorganization." Maybe lil Kim suffered a similar fate?

    Hmmm, you can keep the concubines. I'm going to live to retirement!

  • 0

    somo99999

    speaking out my opinion : -

    There are 16 lookalikes of Kim Jong Il. The only way to ascertain the true and correct Kim Jong Il is to look at the palms of his hand and a certain birth mark. Analyze his photos and you will find the answer.

  • 0

    teaabe

    shouldn't that be his son?

  • 0

    Xennon

    N Korea's Kim died in 2003; replaced by lookalike, says Waseda professor

    Caught a glimpse on CNN today and the reporter there was talking about the questionable health of the North Korean leader. The reporter even mentioned this above claim and said "Of course nobody is taking this claim seriously".

    Ouch! Bandwagoning time from CNN!

  • 0

    ca1ic0cat

    now they are saying that the dear little leader had a stoke and is, at best, in a wheelchair.

    This might explain some of the confusion on the nuke negotiations.

  • 0

    Seirei Tobimatsu

    Kimjongunn is 5 times fatter than his soldiers. Fattened in a golden cage. Never to know the thrills of footloose fancyfree travel.

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