12 January, 2006

have you seen this dictator?

At times, all reporters feel like they are working for the Onion.

MilkcartonNorth Korean Leader’s Whereabouts Unknown

SHANGHAI, China Jan 11, 2006 — The whereabouts of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il remained unclear Thursday, with a Hong Kong-based television network speculating he may be headed for the south Chinese city of Guangzhou, while other reports put him in Beijing or Russia.

Phoenix Television reported that three major hotels in Guangzhou known to be used for VIP visitors were largely empty and requiring guests to check out by tomorrow.

A sales department employee at Guangzhou’s famed White Swan hotel confirmed that they were expecting a "a very important visitor" beginning on Friday. She would not give her name, since she was not authorized to speak publicly.

Feng 37 endorses the Guangzhou theory in the comments here.

Curiously, the US pointman on North Korea has also made a hastily planned visit to China. But he said he had no plans to meet with the dictator who may or may not be in China.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrived in South Korea late Wednesday from Tokyo and said he would seek information in Beijing on the latest North Korean thinking from its closest ally.

He left for Beijing on Thursday after a closed-door session with his South Korean counterpart Song Min-soon.

"I must say the trip that Chairman Kim Jong Il took to China was a surprise to all of us," Hill said at a news conference in Seoul late Wednesday. "It’s a complete coincidence that I’m in the area at the same time."

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass, one of the few agencies to have a bureau  in Pyongyang (along with Xinhua and possibly Cuba’s Grandma) reports, the Dear Leader never left.:

MOSCOW, Jan 12 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is at present in his country and the mystery person said to have crossed into China may be a member of his family, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency said on Thursday.

Tass quoted an unnamed informed source in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where the agency has a correspondent, as saying: "The leader, as far as I know, is at present in North Korea."

The source said the person who crossed the border into China two days ago was probably someone close to the North Korean leadership and hinted he could belong to Kim’s family, Tass said.

Kim’s family? Train headed south? Could it be bound for Hong Kong? Perhaps Kim Jong-nam wants to see the new Disneyland?

UPDATE: Rebecca points to a German press item that says his train disappeared:

Beijing - North Korean leader Kim
Jong II has disappeared in China. His luxurious special train which
reportedly crossed the border into China Tuesday morning at Dandong was
nowhere to be found Wednesday.

‘We really would like to know where he is, but we simply don’t have a clue,’ said a South Korean military attache…

Forget the Hong Kong-Disneyland theory, AP’s new theory is that Kim has been abducted and is now being probed by aliens.


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by @ 8:45 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

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