I’m a bit sceptical about the idea that the Kims are slaves to numerology and in particular to the number nine, if only because precisely the same charge involving precisely the same number was made against former Burmese dictator Ne Win: among other things he’s supposed to have completely reorganised Burmese currency so that it divided into units of 9, for instance with a 45 Kyat note.
As this piece at the Lowy institute notes, accusations of rampant superstition are a fairly common way for dissidents to try and undermine the credibility of regimes. And yet as the report also notes, Ne Win and the Burmese dictatorship's penchant for numerology and other esoteric practices is well documented, to the point where it became part of an innovative regime change strategy:
Anti-regime activists too have used magic to pursue political ends. For example, in 2007 one Thai-based group launched a global 'panties for peace' campaign, in which supporters were encouraged to send women's underwear to Burmese embassies, in the hope that contact with such garments would weaken the regime's hpoun, or spiritual power. The generals may indeed subscribe to this belief. It is widely rumoured that, before a foreign envoy visits Burma, an article of female underwear or a piece of a pregnant woman's sarong is hidden in the ceiling of the visitor's hotel suite, to weaken theirhpoun and thus their negotiating position.
It makes you wonder what they did when Hillary showed up last year. In truth, addiction to esoteric practices of one kind or other is hardly confined to either dictatorships or Asian countries, a prominent recent example being Ronald Reagan’s cultivation of Nancy’s personal astrologer. That was just about organising his shcdule rather than, say, bathing in dolphin's bood to stay young, as Ne Win reportedly did, or carrying around Richard Nixon's autograph in the belief that it made him bulletproof, as was the practice of the late Cambodian dictator Lon Nol.
One odd thing: In 1983, North Korea attempted to assassinate South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan in Rangoon with a bomb in a mausoleum he was visiting. Chun was late and survived, though four of his cabinet died among a total of 21 people. The date? October 9.