South Korea confident that rumours of Kim Jong Un illness are wrong

Вторник, 28 Апр, 2020

Although the internet is rife with conspiracy theories and several publications have expressed the belief that the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is either "dead" or critically ill, the country of South Korea has once again reiterated that it has reason to believe that Kim is "alive and well".

Seoul can confidently conclude nothing extraordinary is going on in North Korea, said South Korea's minister of unification on Sunday.

If something were to happen to Kim, some experts say it could lead to instability in North Korea.

A website specialising in North Korean affairs published satellite images on Saturday that researchers said showed a train "probably" belonging to the leader.

The train was not present on April 15, but was present on both April 21 and 23, 38 North reported, adding that the railway station is "reserved for use by the Kim family".

The presence of Kim's train in Wonsan, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) east of Pyongyang, potentially fits with the South Korean account.

According to North Korea's state media, Kim last presided over a meeting on 11 April. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to talk to the media, said earlier this week that the latest rumours about Kim's health had not changed the United States assessment of the information as "speculation".

Moon Chung-in, a special security adviser to South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, said Sunday in an interview with Fox News that Kim is "alive and well".

On Monday, the country's official newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, said Kim had sent a message thanking construction workers at the Wonsan-Kalma coastal resort construction site for their hard work. Speculation about his health began swirling after Mr Kim missed state celebrations for his country's biggest holiday, the April 14 birthday of his grandfather and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung.

"She plays a pivotal role in North Korean domestic and foreign policy campaigns because she is one of the main stakeholders in the regime's survival", said Leonid Petrov, a North Korea specialist and senior lecturer at the International College of Management in Sydney, told the daily.

North Korea has so far preferred to remain silent on media reports suggesting that leader Kim Jong Un may be unwell.

The party maintains extensive control of society - "Single-Minded Unity" is one of the North's most enduring slogans - and no-one expects any kind of popular uprising in the event of Kim's death.

Official statements have conspicuously not mentioned Kim in recent days, while state media were yet to release photos of the leader overseeing an April 14 missile test, as is common.

President Donald Trump also dismissed the claims about his demise or poor health last week.

The National Intelligence Service, Seoul's spy agency, has said it can't confirm whether Kim had surgery.

Amid mounting speculations regarding Kim Jong-un's health, some crypto pundits like Galaxy Digital's Mike Novogratz believe now's as good a time as any to stock up on bitcoin. The Americans at that summit rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities.

On Thursday, citing an unidentified government official, South Korean broadcaster SBS reported that Kim appeared to have been in Wonsan for at least the past four days and would soon return to the public eye.

In the absence of an official statement from North Korean state media or its ruling party, it's almost impossible to verify any reports about Kim's heath, which is considered a matter of national security.