South Korean government cast doubt on rumors that North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un was gravely ill after undergoing heart surgery. They said there were no unusual movements in North Korea and said he was not seriously ill, contradicting the report.
Fears rose after an unnamed U.S official said that Washington has been monitoring intelligence about the critical condition of Kim. An outlet, Daily Nk run by defectors of North Korea said that Kim has undergone cardiovascular surgery and recovering in North Phyongan.
Yonhap News Agency cited official said reports about Kim’s health that he was gravely ill are not true. Kim was last seen at an official meeting on April 11 and missed the celebration of the birthday of his grandfather, the nation’s founder, Kim Il-Sung, on April 15. His mysterious absence sparked speculations about his health.
If fears that Kim is gravely ill or incapacitated were to prove correct, it is not clear what would happen next, his sister Kim Yo-jong is one of the senior politicians who could take control.
North Korea has imposed more strict restrictions amid COVID-19 pandemic, although no case is reported yet. The Blue House said that they have no information regarding the rumors about the North Korean dictator’s health issues that have been reported recently by some outlets. No unusual movements have been seen inside the country. It said that he is normally engaged with the country affairs and there was no such emergency reactions from the ruling party, cabinet or military.
Geng Shuang, the foreign ministry spokesman of China said that Beijing knows about the reports related to Kim’s health but doesn’t know about the source, didn’t comment on if it has any current information about his health.
Another U.S official said that the White House already aware of speculations and fears about the North Korean dictator’s health before these reports surfaced. He said that the United State had information that Kim has undergone surgery and its complication may have made him ‘incapacitated or worse’. But he stressed that the United States has nothing to do with the confirmation of his surgery or any complications. The State Department and the White House passed no comment.
The media outlets citing unidentified sources said that Kim was recovering in the Mount Kumgang resort after undergoing cardiovascular surgery on April 12 at the hospital there. The outlet reported that Kim’s health has become worse in recent months due to obesity, heavy smoking, and heavy smoking.
The source was quoted as a saying, ‘My understanding is that he had been struggling (with cardiovascular problems) since last August but it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu.’
The fears about Kim’s health comes after the reports that authorities have admitted that COVID-19 I spreading in North Korea, contradicting the claims about no cases of the disease. There was no such indication that Kim had caught the deadly novel coronavirus.
The Unification Ministry that deals with the inter-state affairs said that it couldn’t confirm the report by Daily NK saying that Kim was recovering in the Pyongyang and he was feeling better as his condition was improving.
Kim’s incapacitation or death would result in a power struggle as he has not particularly named a successor. Among people who are likely to take the leadership is his sister, Kim Yo-jong. She was selected as an alternate member of the politburo and has represented the government in dealing with South Korea.
Cheong Seong –Chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said Kim-Yo-jong is already having a significant influence within the government.