North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “alive and well,” said high security adviser to South American President Moon Jae-in, downplaying rumors of Kim’s health after his absence from a key birthday. .
“Our position in government is firm,” said Moon’s special adviser on national security Moon Chung-in on Sunday in an interview with CNN. “Kim Jong-un is alive and well.”
The adviser said Kim had been staying at Wonsan – a resort in the east of the country – since April 13, adding: “No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
Conjectures about Kim’s health have grown since his obvious absence from the April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the founder of the North – the most important day on the country’s political calendar.
Kim has not made a public appearance since he chaired a meeting of the Workers’ Party political bureau on April 11, and the next day state media reported him inspecting fighter jets in a unit of air defense.
His absence has sparked a series of unconfirmed media reports of his condition, over which Seoul officials had previously poured cold water.
“We have nothing to confirm and no special movement has been detected in North Korea yet,” the South Presidential office said in a statement last week.
Daily NK, an online media outlet primarily run by North Korean defectors, reported that Kim was recovering from cardiovascular surgery earlier this month.
Citing an unidentified source inside the country, he said that Kim, who is in his mid-thirties, needed urgent treatment due to smoking, obesity and fatigue.
Shortly after, CNN reported that Washington “was monitoring information” that Kim was “in grave danger” after undergoing an operation, citing what he said was an anonymous US official.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected reports that Kim was suffering, but declined to say the last time he was in contact with him.
On Monday, the official newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim had sent a message of thanks to the workers of the giant coastal tourism project of Wonsan Kalma.
It was the latest in a series of reports in recent days of published statements or actions taken on behalf of Kim, although none had taken photos of him.
Satellite images examined by 38North, an American think tank, showed a train probably owned by Kim at a Wonsan station last week.
He warned that the presence of the train “did not indicate anything about his health” but “gave weight” to reports that he was staying on the east coast of the country.
It is notoriously difficult to report from the interior of the isolated North, particularly on everything related to his leadership, which is one of his most closely guarded secrets.
Kim’s previous absence from the public eye has sparked speculation about her health.
In 2014, he lost his sight for almost six weeks before reappearing with a cane. A few days later, the southern spy agency said he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.