The presidential office in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday said no “unusual activity” has been detected in North Korea after rumours were rife that the supreme leader North Korea, Kim Jong Un is in fragile condition post heart surgery. The US is seeking details about Kim Jong Un’s health conditions after receiving information that the North Korean leader is “gravely ill” after undergoing cardiovascular surgery on April 12, the US officials said.
The Trump government wasn’t sure of Kim’s current condition, said the officials to media on condition of anonymity. One of the officials said the White House was told that Kim underwent surgery last week and took a turn for the worse. CNN had earlier reported, citing a US official with direct knowledge of the matter, that Kim may be in “grave danger” after the surgery. The White House declined to comment.
Rumours about Kim Jong Un’s surgery
Kim Jong Un had recently missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on 15 April. This raised speculations and rumours about his health conditions as, reportedly, only three days prior to the event, Kim Jong Un, underwent heart surgery. It is one of the biggest events of the year as it marks the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim II-Sung.
Kim Jong-un has never missed the event, and it seemed very unlikely that he would simply choose not to turn up. Inevitably, his absence prompted speculation and rumours, none of which is easy to substantiate.
North Korea’s state media reported on April 11 that Kim attended a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and reported the next day that Kim “inspected a pursuit assault plane group”, however the state daily had not revealed the date of that visit.
The first report of illness
An anonymous source told the Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that gathers information from informants inside the isolated nation, that they understood he had been struggling with cardiovascular problems since last August. However, his health reportedly “worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu”. This was, reportedly, because of excessive smoking, obesity and overwork. This led to a chain of reporting by international media on a single-sourced story.
Later some reports emerged that intelligence agencies in South Korea and the US were monitoring the claim. Post this news, rumours started brewing as US media reported that Kim Jong Un was “gravely ill” post-surgery.
However, a statement from the South Korean government and a report by Reuters, citing an official with the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, said that Kim was not believed to be critically ill.
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un:
North Korea tightly controls any information surrounding its leader, who is treated almost like a deity there, and gathering intelligence out of the country is hardly possible.
Kim, believed to be 36-year-old, took power upon his father’s death in December 2011 and is the third generation of his family to rule the country.
Known to be a heavy smoker, Kim 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.
In 2014, Kim Jong Un disappeared for 40 days from early September, which had also sparked a torrent of speculation then, including that he had been ousted in a coup by other political grandees. Then he re-appeared, pictured with a cane. State media at the time admitted he was suffering from an “uncomfortable physical condition”, but did not address rumours that he was suffering from gout.