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Leader Kim Jong Un 'alive and well' - Seoul said

09:08 | 27/04/2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is "alive and well", a top security adviser to the South's President Moon Jae-in said, downplaying rumours over Kim's health following his absence from a key anniversary.

leader kim jong un alive and well seoul said
Leader Kim Jong Un sends gratitude to workers at tourist zone amid health rumors of his health

The adviser said that Kim Jong Un had been staying in Wonsan - a resort town in the country's east - since Apr 13, adding: "No suspicious movements have so far been detected."

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has sent his appreciation to the workers who devoted themselves to building the Wonsan-Kalma tourist zone," the Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, said. The Korean Central Broadcasting Station carried a similar report.

The report came amid lingering speculation that something might be wrong with Kim's health since he missed an important annual ceremony on April 15 commemorating the birthday of late state founder and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.

North Korean state media have recently put out reports on Kim sending diplomatic letters and conveying gifts to honored citizens. But no reports on the leader's "field guidance" trips or photos on his public activities have been released by state media for more than two weeks.

Rumors of Kim Jong Un's health

Some unconfirmed media reports have speculated that Kim could be "in grave danger" after surgery. But South Korean officials have dismissed such speculation as untrue, saying nothing unusual was going on in the North and Kim is believed to be staying in the Wonsan region.

Corroborating the intelligence was a report by the U.S. monitoring website 38 North that satellite imagery showed what appeared to be Kim's special train parked at a station in "his Wonsan compound since at least April 21."

"The train's presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country's eastern coast," it added.

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

leader kim jong un alive and well seoul said
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) inspects a pursuit assault plane group under the Air and Anti-Aircraft Division in the western area in this file photo released April 12, 2020, by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. South Korean officials said on April 21 that they have seen no unusual signs with regard to Kim's health after CNN reported that he is "in grave danger after a surgery." (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The Wonsan-Kalma tourist zone is one of Kim's key pet construction projects. Kim, who sent a similar thank-you message to the workers in February, has sought to develop the North's tourism in an effort to beef up an economy faltering under international sanctions.

The 36-year-old leader is known to have various health problems apparently caused by obesity and heavy smoking. He took office as leader of the state after his father, Kim Jong-il, died of a heart attack in late 2011.

On Saturday, Reuters said China has dispatched a team of medical doctors and officials to North Korea "to advise on" Kim, citing multiple unnamed people familiar with the situation.

Leader Kim Jong Un was last seen in state media on April 11 presiding over a political bureau meeting of the ruling Workers' Party, calling for strict measures against the coronavirus.

But his absence from a key ceremony commemorating the 108th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung on April 15 has sparked speculation over his health. He has never skipped his trip to the mausoleum since taking office in late 2011.

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Yonhap/Reuters, Fox