Although North Korea's state-run media outlets released footage of leader Kim Jong Un's visit to a fertilizer factory earlier this month, it appears that rumors over his death have resurfaced after a report claimed that state television channels removed key symbols representing the dictator from the broadcast.
Kim Jong Un's absence from the birth anniversary celebrations of his late grandfather, one of the most significant holidays in the country, spurred an explosion of reports over his ill health, with some outlets claiming that the leader had died, while others alleged that a botched heart surgery had left him in a vegetative state.
Kim's Flag, Emblem Erased, Covered Up
According to NK News, the Supreme Commander's flag and emblem, which comprises a marshal's star and wreath, has reportedly been missing from multiple broadcasts about Kim and even covered up in one segment that airs daily on Korean Central Television (KCTV).
The symbol, which is a key insgnia representing Kim, was covered up during a 15-minute video on the country's new year propaganda slogans, which air at least once a day. According to the report, the removal of the emblem may be related to constitutional changes last year that nixed the term "Supreme Commander." After the change, Kim was referred to as the commander-in-chief.
Many believe the removal of Kim's emblem and flag is another telling sign that Kim may have passed away as his health continues to remain a well-guarded secret and the leader's whereabouts still unknown.
"Well, maybe they used a look a like in the one photo recently released & he really is dead," wrote one user on Twitter, while another commented, "Its difficult to say whether #KimJungUn is dead or alive but there is something strange going on there."
Removal of Portraits From Main Square
Last week, the removal of massive portraits of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung and his successor Kim Jong-il from the main square of Pyongyang, apparently as part of a major renovation, also added fuel to the speculation surrounding Kim's death. The last time the portrait area in the square was altered was in 2012 following the death of Kim Jong II.
Kim Goes Missing Again
The 36-year-old tyrant has once again gone missing for more than 20 days now. The much-publicized inauguration of the fertilizer factory took place on May 1.
North Korean state media had released images and videos of the ceremony featuring their supreme leader laughing and mingling with people to end the speculation surrounding his health. However, doubts were raised over the authenticity of the pictures and theories regarding the regime using a body double as a stand-in for Kim ran rampant, as previously reported by International Business Times.