Remember when President Trump ditched New York and made Florida his official residence? North Korea analysts think leader Kim Jong Un has pulled the same move, Hermit Kingdom-style.
When it comes to Kim’s health, he’s likely still not dead, though he hasn’t been seen since May 1 when he visited a fertilizer factory. He may not even be sick, despite COVID-19. Turns out the Rocketman prefers his massive seaside estate in Wonsan as much as Trump loves Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
And size matters when it comes to presidential getaways. It certainly did to Dennis Rodman when he was feted by his “friend for life” Kim when he first visited Wonsan in 2013, calling it “like Hawaii or Ibiza, but he’s the only one who lives there.”
“You could fit six Mar-a-Lagos in Kim’s compound,” Michael Madden, an analyst with 38 North, a website about North Korea, told The Post. “It’s an amazingly beautiful place where the beaches are kept combed, there are yachts and dinner boats, everything you’d want in this enormous space.”
Kim’s got about 15 different villas scattered around the country as well as a lavish mansion in the heart of the capital, Pyongyang. But only his hideaway in Wonsan, in the province of Kangwon, has swimming pools, tennis courts, soccer fields, waterslides and a sports stadium all fronting east North Korea’s beautiful Sea of Japan’s beaches.
“The Kim family lives there in tremendous luxury while the Korean people suffer,” Sean King, an Asian expert at Park Strategies told the Post. “They are like an organized crime family masquerading as a nation state.”
The compound, clearly visible from the satellite photos taken by western observers, also has small villas for North Korea’s political elite. Kim either flies there on one of his helicopters, private jets, underground trains or takes a protected highway. Ordinary people have to use inferior roadways.
There’s also a Kennedy-compound vibe to Kim’s love for Wonsan; it’s a symbol of the Kim dynasty. His grandfather, Kim Il Sung, first landed here with Soviet troops and founded North Korea in 1945, ending Japanese rule. In former CIA analyst Jung Pak’s new book, “Becoming Kim Jong Un,” she writes of the Kim princes “being tucked away in a cocoon of privilege and indulgence” at Wonsan.
Lately, Kim’s been overseeing a huge resort project nearby, hoping it will become a billion-dollar tourist hotspot. With typical Kim illogic, however, he’s launched 40 missiles from the area, as part of his accelerated tests of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
But some say one reason Kim prefers Wonsan to Pyongyang is to avoid the septuagenarian Deep Staters back in the capital.
“He’s under a lot of pressure from the elite in Pyongyang,” David Maxwell, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel and North Korea expert, told The Post. “He’s trying to make changes they may not like — like reducing the narrative of how the Kim family parted the seas and the sun came down because of their godlike powers.”
This week, the official newspaper of North Korea admitted that Kim and his father and grandfather before him could not magically bend time and space, another myth the country used to deify the Kim family.
Rodman and President Trump are among the few Americans who have met Kim Jong Un. The ex-hoopster has clammed up about his rotund pal recently, as has Joseph Terwilliger, the Manhattan-based geneticist who accompanied Rodman on several trips to North Korea because he speaks fluent Korean. But both men gave Kim positive reviews, depicting him as a warm family man.
“Kim hugged all of us,” Terwilliger said after accompanying Rodman to Wonsan in 2018. “Dennis held his baby. Kim was very open, very friendly. He’s very Korean, very warm, hospitable. He’s a hugger. He hugs everyone.”
Speculation is still rampant about Kim’s whereabouts and status in North Korea. NK News reported Friday that the Supreme Commander emblem has been erased from Korean TV.
The publication said 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.