North Korean author and human rights activist Yeonmi Park claims that Kim Jong Un — rumored to be dead, in grave condition, or simply out of the public eye — is alive and hiding from coronavirus as it ravages his country.
"The most cowardly and selfish dictator Kim Jong Un is not dead or even sick according to my source," she tweeted on Sunday.
"He is hiding out in a fear of getting a Corona virus. Despite lying to the world that there is a zero case of Corona virus, it has been spreading uncontrollably within North Korea."Yeonmi, who authored In Order To Live, A North Korean Girl's Journey To Freedom, claims that Kim is following in his predecessors' footsteps and allowing North Korean people to die while he saves himself. According to the author, Kim will soon return to public view to prove recent rumors wrong.
"Please do not give Kim Jong Un the pleasure of proving how all the media has been wrong about #NorthKorea. Just wait to see."Yeonmi's comment comes after Chung-in Moon, a top foreign policy advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, claimed that Kim is alive and well. His claim came after reports leaked of one of Kim's private trains being spotted at Wonsan, a North Korean beach resort town.As reported by The Daily Express, professor Hazel Sarah spoke to Sky News about Kim's obesity and the dangers it poses for him amid coronavirus.
"People like Kim Jong-un, you don't need to have special intelligence to see that he is clearly vulnerable being seriously ill," she said.
Smith pointed to his obesity, heavy smoking, and data that has linked obesity to poorer coronavirus outcomes. For this reason, Smith claims that it would be "sensible" for North Korean medical officials and scientists to ensure Kim is protected and sheltered from infection.
While North Korea has reported zero cases of coronavirus, defectors and experts have been wary about such claims. Choi Jung Hun, a doctor who worked in North Korea during the flu pandemic and SARS outbreak, recently shed light on the country's bare-bones medical system, Business Insider reported. Choi claimed doctors in the northeastern city of Chongjin often did not have sufficient evidence to determine who had the disease. He also said health officials were not asked to confirm cases or submit numbers to Pyongyang's central government.
Given North Korea's devastated medical infrastructure and reclusive history, experts believe coronavirus has likely ravaged the country, which shares its border with China, where the disease is believed to have originated.