Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader, critically ill after surgery?
Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea who is a revered figure in the country, is critically ill after he underwent surgery earlier this month, a CNN report said. The United States is closely monitoring the situation, an official in the know told the daily. But the Yonhap news agency of South Korea junked this information saying Kim was not seriously ill.
Kim, a heavy smoker, underwent surgery on April 12
These speculations are based on a report published in Daily NK, a South Korean online news website that focuses on North Korea. The website said Kim underwent a cardiovascular surgery on April 12 due to "excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork". After the procedure, Kim was recuperating at Hyangsan County. As his health improved, most of the doctors returned to Pyongyang on April 19.
On North Korea's most important day, Kim remained absent
It was Kim's absence from public meetings that sparked rumors about his poor health. On April 15, he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founding father of the country. The aforementioned date is North Korea's most important holiday and is called the Day of the Sun. Every year, satellite launches and military parades mark this occasion.
Kim's public appearances have also dipped
In fact, Kim has also restricted public appearances this year, making only 17 till now. Last year, he made 84 public appearances. All this information sparked rumors that he might be unwell. But speculations are all anyone has since gathering information from North Korea is extremely difficult. Further, the country treats the health of its leader as a top guarded secret.
"We will have to wait and see"
Experts have warned against reading much into this new development. Bruce Klingner, the former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea, said if Kim is hospitalized it explains why he missed Sun Day's celebrations. "But, over the years, there have been a number of false health rumors about Kim Jong-un or his father. We'll have to wait and see," Klingner told CNN.
Speculations about Kim's health aren't new
This is not the first time rumors about Kim's health have surfaced. In 2014, he remained absent from the news cycle for almost a month. Later, he returned with a cane in hand and it was revealed he got a cyst removed from the ankle.
Meanwhile, NK News reported today that life is continuing normally in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. A source told the daily schools were starting to re-open after an extended holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Everything is normal, the report said. "Don't be surprised when he shows up (again) soon...(as if) he never had any health issues," sources told the daily.