File image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un | Photo: ANI via Reuters
File image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un | Photo: Reuters via ANI
Text Size:

Washington/ Seoul: The U.S. is seeking details about Kim Jong Un’s health after receiving information that the North Korean leader was in critical condition after undergoing cardiovascular surgery last week, a U.S. official said.

The Trump administration wasn’t sure whether Kim was dead or alive, said the official, who asked not to be identified. CNN had earlier reported, citing a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter, that Kim may be in “grave danger” after the surgery. The White House declined to comment on the CNN report.

South Korea’s benchmark Kospi gauge extended losses to as much as 3% on the news. Local defense stocks rose.

The Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that gathers information from informants inside the isolated nation, separately reported that Kim underwent a “cardiovascular surgical procedure” and was now mostly recovered. It was impossible to immediately verify the report, which the Daily NK said was based on one person inside North Korea.

The health of North Korea’s leader is one of the state’s most closely guarded secrets, typically only known by a handful of people in the inner circle of leadership. Speculation about Kim had been growing since his unprecendented absence from April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung, one of the biggest days on the North Korean calender.


Also read: These are the 15 countries that have ‘zero’ coronavirus cases


White Horse

Kim, 36 and a heavy smoker, has been shown in state media in recent months appearing at military drills and riding a white horse on the country’s revered Mt. Paektu, where state propaganda says his grandfather used as a guerrilla base to fight Japanese colonial occupiers.

The Unification Ministry said Friday it was “inappropriate” to speculate about the reasons for Kim’s absence. Kim has made 17 public appearances this year that were mentioned in state media — at a pace of a little more than one a week — the ministry said. That’s slightly down from 84 public appearances last year.

North Korea has been battling to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, which has led to cutting back on celebrations and some other major events and for cadres to appear in protective masks in public events with Kim.

The Daily NK is part of a group of non-for-profit agencies affiliated with the Unification Ministry, and has occasionally been contacted by Seoul officials for information. The outlet’s backers include the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy, which awarded it $400,000 last year to “raise awareness and understanding of the conditions in North Korea by disseminating accurate, timely and relevant news and information about the country.”

“Given the difficulty of verifying intelligence about North Korea and our mixed track record of predicting exactly what North Korea’s actions signify, we need to avoid jumping to any hasty conclusions just yet,” said Mintaro Oba, a former U.S. diplomat who worked on Korean Peninsula issues.-Bloomberg


Also read: North Korea still says it has no coronavirus cases. This is how it’s managing the story


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here