Kim Jong Un is in “grave danger” following surgery that has kept him from attending a key event, sparking speculation about his health, a new report claims.
CNN senior reporter Jim Sciutto tweeted on Monday that the United States is following the situation closely as the North Korean leader’s health is said to be in “grave danger” following a surgical procedure.
Breaking: The US is monitoring intelligence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health is in grave danger following a surgery, a US official with direct knowledge tells me.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 21, 2020
Kim had been receiving treatment for a cardiovascular procedure earlier this month, South Korean media wrote this week. As Reuters noted, there had been speculation that he may be in poor health after he missed an event marking the anniversary of the birthday of his grandfather and the country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung. Kim was not seen at the national event held last week.
Kim was also absent last week when North Korea fired a number of short-range missiles, which was reported to be part of Kim Il Sung’s birthday celebrations. Kim Jong Un has normally been known to observe these military operations.
The Reuters report explained that it is difficult to get accurate information from events within North Korea, which is tight-lipped on issues concerning national leadership and rigid in control over state media. The outlet added, however, that some insiders claimed that Kim was still recovering following a procedure earlier last week.
“Daily NK, a specialty website run mostly by North Korean defectors, cited unidentified sources inside the isolated state saying Kim is recovering at a villa in the Mount Kumgang resort county of Hyangsan on the east coast after getting the procedure on April 12 at a hospital there,” the report claimed.
A source told the newspaper that Kim had been struggling with cardiovascular issues for months and that it had worsened after his visits to North Korea’s sacred mountains. He was taken to the hospital after attending a political event on April 11, and has not been seen in public since then.
As Bloomberg reported, there had long been speculation on the health of Kim, who is a heavy smoker. The country has also been taking measures to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus, which led to cutting back on public celebrations and for the government to require those in close proximity to Kim to wear protective masks. Due to the country’s secretive nature, the extent of the potential coronavirus outbreak there has not been entirely clear. The nation had claimed to have zero infections, but medical experts and defectors said it was likely taking steps to conceal any evidence of the spread of the virus.