Go to contents

‘Kim Jong Un risk’ shakes the Korean Peninsula

Posted April. 22, 2020 07:37,   

Updated April. 22, 2020 07:37


Rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has fallen critically ill after undergoing surgery are undermining stability on the Korean Peninsula. While U.S. newspapers report that the U.S. government has secured intelligence about Kim’s health citing U.S. government officials, the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has dismissed them saying no unusual signs had been detected.

“The U.S. is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery,” said CNN on Monday. It also quoted another U.S. official as saying that the concerns about Kim's health are credible but the severity is hard to assess. “Kim was in critical condition after undergoing cardiovascular surgery last week,” said Bloomberg adding that the U.S. government is trying to figure out more details on the issue.

Kim has not been seen in public for 10 days since he attended a Politburo meeting on April 11. Speculation about his health was prompted after he missed the celebration of the birth of his grandfather and the country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, on April 15. Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that focuses on North Korea, reported that Kim received a cardiovascular procedure on April 12 at a clinic in the Mount Myohyang area in North Pyongan Province.

“There was nothing to confirm‎ on rumors about Kim Jong Un’s health, and no special movement has been detected inside North Korea as of now,” Cheong Wa Dae said denying the claims. According to the South Korean presidential office and intelligence authorities, Kim is currently in Wonsan, South Hamgyong Province, which is located 200 kilometers from Pyongyang.

A source familiar with North Korean issues said that there is a possibility that Kim had some kind of surgery, but it is not certain. No evidence suggested Kim was critically ill and no unusual movements were detected among North Koreans living in China, a source in Beijing said.

alwaysj@donga.com · jkim@donga.com