Kim Jong-il is in China right now, meeting with the regional power who continue to prop up his North Korean regime for the sake of their own security. The linked-to Times article has some analysis, as does Nothing to Envy author Barbara Demick for the LA Times. Here at The Measure, meanwhile, we’re mostly just excited—as we are whenever Kim emerges from his poured-concrete bubble—for the release of a new batch of news-agency photos of Dear Leader. Given that Kim’s power depends on the absolute control of all information, and given hotly circulating rumors of ill-health (and body doubles!) we jump all over ourselves to divine from these geopolitical tea leaves the current state of North Korea. (This is a common tactic for covering a closed country.)
Even in China, it is far more difficult than in North Korea to control the news entirely: though Kim is said to have traveled to China in a convoy including a bus, limos, and a 17-car armored train, and though China gamely instituted a media blackout and closed roads along Kim’s route, a photographer for Japan’s Kyodo News managed to snap several photos.
As you can see, Kim Jong-il’s carefully maintained image of hale health and stability is just a facade, a flimsy cover-up easily seen around. It’s Potemkin hair! North Korea is on the verge of collapse.