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North Korea’s Disappearing Leader: Speculation Grows Around Kim Jong Un’s Health

Kim Jong Un death

TOPLINE North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un was absent from another important national event Saturday, fueling speculation about his health amid reports that a team of medical experts was sent by China to check on him.

North Korea on Saturday celebrated the 88th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces, the Korean People's Revolutionary Army—but noticeably missing from fanfare in the state-controlled media footage was the country’s supreme leader, Kim, according to South Korean media reports.

The absence of Kim, who is believed to be 36 years old, has spurred speculation over his health, with reports ranging from that he is gravely ill after a cardiovascular operation to that he’s already dead. 

Reuters reported that a team including medical experts left Beijing for the hermit kingdom on Thursday to advise Kim, led by a senior member of Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, which often deals with North Korea.

South Korean, Chinese and U.S. officials have all challenged emerging reports that Kim is seriously ill after undergoing surgery almost two weeks ago—Reuters reported that a South Korean source indicated on Friday that all intelligence pointed to Kim being alive, and likely to make a public appearance shortly.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he thought the reports that Kim is in grave health were “incorrect,” while another official familiar with U.S. intelligence told Reuters that while Kim is known to have health issues, there is no evidence he is seriously ill.

Media outlets have pointed out he may just be social distancing to avoid being infected with coronavirus—the opaque nature of the North Korean regime makes it difficult to confirm the number of coronavirus cases the country has seen.

SURPRISING FACT

No credible reports allege that Kim has died — but that hasn’t stopped the hashtag #KIMJONGUNDEAD from going viral on social media.

KEY BACKGROUND

Kim’s last confirmed public appearance was April 11, when he led a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party committee of policymakers, according to North Korean state media reports.

South Korea reported that North Korea had launched tests of short-range cruise missiles off its coast on April 14, as part of fanfare for Kim’s grandfather and founder of North Korea Kim Il Sung’s birthday. Kim has been reported to have attended missile tests in the past, but this launch went unreported by state-controlled North Korean media. Since then, he was not reported to have been present at an event to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15.  However, it’s not entirely unusual for Kim or other North Korean officials to go weeks without public appearances—In 2014, Kim was not seen out in public for 40 days, before he reemerged appearing to walk with a limp and using a cane. State media reported he had suffered from “an uncomfortable medical condition.” Even recently as February, Kim went nearly three weeks without public appearances. 

TANGENT

Kim is believed to be a heavy smoker, and appears to have gained weight since he took power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il in 2011. The ruling family of North Korea is said to have a history of cardiovascular problems, with both Kim’s father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung reported to have died from heart attacks

From: forbes
North Korea’s Disappearing Leader: Speculation Grows Around Kim Jong Un’s Health North Korea’s Disappearing Leader: Speculation Grows Around Kim Jong Un’s Health Reviewed by streakoggi on April 25, 2020 Rating: 5

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