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As a North Korean (in exile), the recent developments in North Korea that have been communicated by colleagues in the country lead to a conclusion that is shocking for me beyond words can describe. What we all took to be an immutable fact of life in North Korea no longer holds: our country is no longer ruled by a Kim. The DPRK may tirelessly trumpet its system of “absolute guidance” centred on Kim Jong Un; but I have seen much that suggests otherwise, and have now had it articulated by colleagues in Pyongyang – and nothing could have astonished me more than to hear them put it in their own words – that ‘Kim Jong Un is a puppet who is being controlled by the elite’. ‘This North Korea of today is not the North Korea you used to live in’. On the first occasion I heard those words spoken by a North Korean from inside North Korea, a shiver ran through my body. Colleagues in Pyongyang describe a North Korean state that is being run by several invisible hands. To put it more specifically, an inner circle of elite, with its focal point in the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), has now cemented itself as the collective leadership of North Korea. In effect, they have anointed Kim Jong Un as the nominal leader, while they themselves rule from behind in Kim Jong Un’s name.