Twitter, Weibo Spread Rumors of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un's Assassination

Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:53pm EST

Did social media just prematurely kill off the leader of North Korea?

Rumors that Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader, has been assassinated just months after he took power originated on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and have now spread all over Twitter.

Others are reporting that Jong-un, believed to be 28 years old, may be on the run rather than dead, but both reports claim that some kind of coup is taking place.

One person on Weibo wrote (loose translation): "north korea's biggest leader kim jung un, this morning in beijing time 2:45 am, had his residence broken into and was assassinated by unidentified people, who were shot dead by his bodyguards in korea's embassy in beijing, vehicles are rapidly increasing in number, and have surpassed 30 of them, this sort of battle formation hasn't been seen in over two years. please verify this."

The rumors remain unsubstantiated. However, the reports are beginning to attract a great deal of attention, especially now that a couple of American news outlets including the Atlantic Wire have reported on them.

Weibo is in many ways the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and disseminates news at a rapid pace. People were tipped off that there was something happening that involved Jong-Un, who succeeded his late father Kim Jong-Il, because of the mass of cars parked outside of his resident.

For good reason, many Twitter users are exercising caution, aware that news like this can spread without much to sustain it.

A sample of the dubious tweeters:

“Kim Jong Un apparently assasinated in Beijing. Source: 'Chinese Twitter'. What does that even mean? One Chinese person's account? or @China?” AdamThompson1 tweeted.

“Wait for confirmation on Kim Jong Un death rumors. Twitter is also reporting that ‘Jonas Brothers are the best band,’” Matt Binder wrote.

“Rumors from Chinese twitter that Kim Jong Un assassinated this morning in Beijing. pretty unlikely,” Dan Bennett posted.

So did social media spread the news or cause unnecessary hysteria? We will update when the news develops.

Michelle Ong contributed to this report.

Related Articles:  At the Speed of Twitter: The Revolution Spreads to Libya, Bahrain, Yemen Watch North Koreans Weep Uncontrollably Over Kim Jong-Il's Death (Video) Kim Jong-Il Dead: CNN Brings Back Amanpour, Huckabee Has Caroling on Fox

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (8)
tossacromwell wrote:
How do I see the related articles? There are no hyperlinks and a search of the site yields no results.

Feb 10, 2012 2:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SilkyJohnson wrote:
Haha Reuters has a sense of humer, eh?

“Wait for confirmation on Kim Jong Un death rumors. Twitter is also reporting that ‘Jonas Brothers are the best band,’” Matt Binder wrote.

Feb 10, 2012 4:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MartijnB wrote:
I hope when there is a coup that it wil go the good way, instead of the bad. For example, More freedom to the citizens of North-Korea and free borders. After all, they must get re-united again.

Good luck North-Korea.

Feb 10, 2012 4:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.