China, South Korea Deny Reports That Kim Jong-Un Is Critically Ill

Information out of North Korea is tightly controlled and difficult to verify.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waves as he prepares to leave Vietnam
Carl Court / Getty Images

Information out of North Korea is tightly controlled and difficult to verify.

China and South Korea are both downplaying reports that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is gravely ill, Sky News reports.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, news broke late Monday night (Eastern Time) that Kim, whose age is uncertain but who is generally believed to be around 36 years old, is in “grave” danger following cardiovascular surgery. According to reports, Kim had undergone surgery on April 12 and was recuperating in a home outside Pyongyang.

“My understanding is that he had been struggling (with cardiovascular problems) since last August but it worsened after repeated visits to (the country’s sacred mountain) Mount Paektu,” said a source.

The reports appear to have emerged from news site Daily NK, which is run by North Korean defectors. It was then picked up by CNN. Later, an unidentified U.S. intelligence official with “direct knowledge of the matter” confirmed that the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring reports that Kim was ill, and another unidentified U.S. official said the reports about Kim’s health were “credible.”

In the context of what is known about Kim’s health, the reports that he could be experiencing cardiovascular problems were not contradictory. Kim is known to be obese and a heavy smoker, both risk factors for heart disease.

However, there are a number of issues with the reports. For one thing, the reports were based on a single source writing for a single website, and as such are impossible to verify. For another, news out of North Korea is tightly controlled by the country’s secretive government.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 25: South Koreans watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the Seoul railway station on April 25, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. Russian President Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met on the Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Thursday during their first ever summit. Reports have indicated that Pyongyang's nuclear programme will be at the top of the list of issues to discuss as the meeting between both leaders came soon after a failed summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi, which ended without an agreement made. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
  Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

South Korea, for its part, is not convinced that there’s anything to the reports, noting that the country’s intelligence community closely monitors what goes on around Pyongyang.

“We have no information to confirm regarding rumors about Chairman Kim Jong Un’s health issue that have been reported by some media outlets. Also, no unusual developments have been detected inside North Korea,” said South Korean government spokesperson Kang Min-seok.

Similarly, an official at the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, which deals with North Korea, said that an unidentified source within the agency does not believe that Kim is sick.

As USA Today reports, Kim’s last public appearance is believed to have been on April 11, when he supposedly attended a government meeting. As that photo comes from North Korea’s state-run Central News Agency, the veracity of the photo’s purported date could not be independently verified.

On April 15, North Korea celebrated a national holiday honoring the birth date of his late grandfather, Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong-Un, however, was absent from those celebrations, leading to speculation about the state of his health.