An analysis of the regime's significant dates shows nine rules, meaning we should be worried on Friday 5 April (5+4=9)
| North Korea's former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il: fixated on the number nine? Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters|
North Korea is a notoriously secret society, led by an equally secretive dynasty of Kims. But as hostilities with the west over the country's nuclear programme escalate, revelations from deep within the regime might shed some light on what is guiding its leaders' actions.
Apparently it's the number nine.
It all started at the time of Korea's liberation from Japanese occupation, when there were eight shamans representing the eight provinces of Korea. Out of these, the strongest shaman was thought to be the one from of Pyongan-do. He is said to have told Kim Il-sung that the destiny of his bloodline was aligned with the ninth number, which is considered auspicious in east Asia.
Perhaps it was because of this that Kim Il-sung declared the founding date of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to be 9 September. Although there were five provinces at the time, he increased the number to nine. The Supreme Guard Command, Kim's personal bodyguard corps, was named Unit 963 (double nine is an especially lucky combination).
The Kims have their own food chain, also using the number nine. Throughout North Korea you will find so-called No 9 farms and No 9 work details, specially assigned by the central party's financial administration department. Their produce is used to feed the Kims, and these meals are called No 9 products.
The second Kim is said to have repeatedly stressed the fact that his birthday fell on 16 February (1+6+2=9). He decreed that the numberplates of his vehicles should read 2.16; and then, so as to disguise his personal vehicles, assigned this as a common numberplate for all of North Korea's inner elite.
Kim Jong-il was appointed to the highest military post on 24 December (2+4+1+2=9). His appointment as party secretary, which effectively formalised his powers, was made three years and three months after the death of his father, Kim Il-sung.
Applying this to recent North Korean history, we note that Kim Jong-il gave his son, Kim Jong-un, his first public role as general of the Korean People's Army on 27 September 2010 (2+7=9, plus the 9th month, equals double nine). On 11 April (20)12 (1+1+4+1+2=9) Kim Jong-un was appointed first secretary of the Workers' party. Then on 18 July 2012, he was appointed to the rank of marshal.
When North Korea makes international news with an impending rocket launch or nuclear test, outside analysts often cite recent birthdays of the Kims, or other state anniversaries, as influencing the choice of date. But a closer look suggests it has more to do with the number nine.
The country's first nuclear test took place on 9 October 2006. The second long-range rocket launch was on 5 April 2009 (5+4=9 and nine of 2009, double nine). The next one was successfully launched on 12 December 2012 (1+2+1+2+1+2=9). There was a nuclear test on 12 February (20)13 (1+2+2+1+3=9). A recent North Korean propaganda video released on YouTube, in which the east coast of the US is consumed in a "sea of fire", features a rocket labelled No 9.
So, it all adds up. Three generations of the Kim family seem to have been fixated on nines. In the current climate this suggests that we should all be on our guard today, Friday 5 April (5+4=9). If we make it safely to Saturday, the world is probably safe from a nuclear attack until the 14th or, perhaps, the 23rd.
Jang Jin-sung, editor-in-chief of New Focus International