After various reports that claimed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was lying low due to his excessive weight gain – thanks to his love for Swiss cheese – it now looks like the story could have simply been a cover-up as the infamous leader reportedly faces death threats from possible defectors in his country.
The North Korean capital city has been under intense lockdown, reports are now saying, raising questions on whether the reclusive regime is on the verge of its doom. Quoting reliable sources in the country, the Telegraph reported that a ban on new travel passes to leave or enter Pyongyang was introduced on 27 September.
While the North Korean capital has always been a difficult place to either enter or exit, the latest restrictions reportedly even apply to permanent residents of Pyongyang.
"This sort of action suggests that there has either been an attempted coup or the authorities there have uncovered some sort of ploy against the leadership," the British daily quoted Toshimitsu Shigumura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs.
"If it is a military-backed coup, the situation in Pyongyang will be very dangerous and I have heard reports that Kim has been moved out of the capital," he said adding that some senior officials of the regime have attempted to defect and "they are closing the escape routes, such as the airport and the border."
Reports on the lockdown first appeared in a report published on Tuesday in New Focus International. The leader has not been seen in public for over a month prompting speculations on his whereabouts. His little-known sister, Kim Yo Jong, has taken official charge of North Korea as he is said to be under 'medical treatment'.