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Rumors of N. Korean coup ‘groundless’

Recent rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been overthrown by powerful military leader Choe Ryong-hae are not based on evidence, sources said late Monday.

“It does not even make sense. I’ve never heard of such thing before,” a military source told local media. A government source said that it did hear such rumors on social networks in China, but has yet to confirm it.

Earlier in the day, an online post titled “Choe Ryong-hae coup” spread via Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. The post claimed that the vice marshal of the North Korean military staged a military coup and arrested Kim.

Another post on Chinese social networks said that Kim was arrested by Choe in the morning, and China was “intently watching” the developments.

The rumor spread to South Korea later in the day, as people here have been paying close attention to their Northern neighbors after Pyongyang’s leader had gotten rid of his once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek.

Strings of rumors concerning the downfall of Jang had popped up here recently, including an alleged coup attempt by Jang and his supposed connection with Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Jong-nam. A rumor which claimed Jang had an affair with Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju appears to have been refuted on Friday after North Korea aired a documentary film that showed Kim and Ri walking side by side.

“Ever since Jang was purged, rumors have been flying everywhere. It shows that many people are anxious over situation in North Korea,” diplomatic sources in Beijing said.

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