North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not made public appearance for 21 days, but appears to have left Wonsan and moved to the suburban county of Kangdong, according to the U.S. authorities on Thursday (local time).
A U.S. government official told The Dong-A Ilbo that a car, train (the one spotted in Wonsan), and horse belonging to Kim Jong Un were spotted at a villa in Kangdong Country this week, adding that the U.S. “suspects” that he is currently staying in Kangdong County. Kim has a great love for horse-riding that he brings a trailer carrying his horse whenever he changes his place of stay.
The U.S. has kept a close eye on him, spotting the North Korean leader walking around in Wonsan between April 15 and 20, during which rumors about Kim’s death surfaced. The core of U.S. intelligence operation is a reconnaissance satellite called “Key Hole,” which is capable of reading a car license plate. The U.S. is using a variety of reconnaissance assets to monitor North Korea.
After disappearing from public eye for 20 days, Kim reappeared on May 1 to attend the opening ceremony of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, Pyongan Province. But he is not making appearances since then. Chairman Kim appears to have moved to Kangdong instead of heading back to Pyongyang to protect himself from COVID-19, according to experts. Kim will likely to govern the country from the Kangdong villa and his train for a while since the train is equipped with everything, including his office.
There is also a possibility that Kim Jong Un moved to Kangdong to avoid staying in Wonsan for a long time since the place has been exposed to the Washington and Seoul. “It is probable that Chairman Kim will frequently change his place of stay since his staying in Wonsan has been exposed,” said Cho Han-beom, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification.