Today we were advised by various websites that the report in a Chinese government newspaper in Hong Kong that Kim Jong Un had fed his uncle to 120 starving dogs was untrue. The story appears to have originated as a satiric posting on the Chinese version of Twitter. We wonder. Was a spiteful ex-inamorata involved? This seems to us to be a frequent source for outlandish slanders, but our perspective is admittedly warped. The journal first reporting the story, Wen Wei Po, is described as an official publication of the Chinese Communist Party, but appears now to be a kind of Chinese variant of the Village Voice. Was Tony Ortega recently spotted in Hong Kong? Kelly Cramer?

Having devoted a large amount of this website to criticizing those who spread these kinds of smears, we feel obliged to tender our sincere apologies to Mr. Kim, and offer here our retraction of the story. We will attach an amendment to our original story noting our contrition and remorse.

Mr. Kim has done much that we do not admire — in fact, we cannot think of anything he has done that merits praise. Still, that’s a long way from saying that he would strip an aging relative naked, tie him to a post, and then set a large pack of starving dogs upon him until naught remained but his bones, as the initial report had it. As to what actually became of the uncle, there is only more speculation, although most knowledgeable observers favor the “shredded by large-caliber anti-aircraft fire” option employed against others incurring Mr. Kim’s displeasure (this is also not documented, but seems to have been generally accepted as credible).

Certainly we should not been too quick and so eager to accept the qai jue (“death by dogs”) story, especially given our longstanding mistrust of so-called journalists. It did seem outre, at minimum. But in our defense, the outlandish realities of North Korean life and its ruling elite daze us so frequently that this particular fable did not fall very far beyond the plausible, which suggests something.

Finally, we remain impressed by one small detail of the original story, which involves terminology: the citation of the phrase “qai jue,” which, we are advised, means “death by dogs.” Perhaps this is also an invention; if so, it is ingenious and admirable. If not, we remain intrigued by the existence of such a curious term of art, as it implies that if Mr. Kim’s uncle did not meet this fate, a sufficient number of others, at some points in time, have, so that a lexiconic term has evolved to describe it.

Something to ponder, perhaps, as we continue to sift through the bits and pieces of information that actually escape from the black hole that is North Korea, where, even as elites are cast into damnation, Dennis Rodman has found redemption.  And we still cling to a vague suspicion that somehow, in some way, Ortega had something to do this this.  It has his stamp.