Taiwan’s top intelligence official said that the country has evidence proving that Kim Jong Un is “sick” and that North Korea is preparing for a power struggle if the leader dies.
Chiu Kuo-cheng, the director of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, was asked about reports that the North Korean leader had either fallen ill or died, as a series of reports had claimed. Chiu told Taiwanese lawmakers that Kim was “sick,” though he did not give specifics about his condition, the New York Post reported.
Chiu said he was confident about the veracity of the intelligence reports.
“My answer is from the intelligence that is available and it is not an opinion,” Chiu said, stressing that the intelligence agencies were unable to confirm the exact health condition he faced.
Reports this weekend indicated that Kim had fallen into a vegetative state after a heart procedure gone wrong, with some claiming that he had died. There is no independent confirmation of any of these reports.
Other world governments have given conflicting reports on what they believe has happened to the North Korean leader, who has been out of the public eye for more than two weeks and missed a ceremony celebrating the birthday of his late grandfather, the country’s founding father. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that American officials have likewise not seen Kim and appeared to echo the warning from the Taiwanese intelligence chief that there could be dire consequences for the country ahead.
“We haven’t seen him. We don’t have any information to report today, we’re watching it closely,” Pompeo said, via the BBC. “There is a real risk that there will be a famine, a food shortage, inside of North Korea too.”
American President Donald Trump said that he believes the reports claiming Kim had died were based on old information.
Other world leaders have hinted that Kim is well but has gone into hiding in the North Korean coastal resort city of Wonsan.
“He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13,” Chung-in Moon, foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told Fox News. “No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
Reports indicated that Kim retreated to his luxury resort amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in North Korea, which had reportedly showed up in the leader’s inner circle.
The North Korean government has not issued any kind of official statement on the status of Kim.