“This story has hardly been picked up on by Korean media which is one reason to be suspicious,” Chad O’Carroll, who edits the news site NKNews.org (their invaluable e-mail newsletter is here), told me via e-mail. “The other reason to be suspicious is because the rumor surfaced ages ago — but no one paid attention to it,” he said. South Korean media are quite plugged in to North Korean defector communities, to sources still in the country and most especially to South Korea’s intelligence agency. Some of those outlets can be eager to pick up stories or rumors that portray North Korea in a negative light. And, as O’Carroll pointed out, they’re not shy about running single-source stories. But South Korea’s many news outlets, big and small, seem to be treating this story as so implausible it’s not even worth mentioning. And they would know.
Update from a reader:
It might be worth noting that the origin of the story has apparently been traced to a series of posts on Tencent Weibo from an account imitating satirist “Pyongyang Choi Seongho.”