Where is North Korean leader? Is Kim Jong Un gravely ill?

Where is Kim Jong Un? The North Korean leader has been missing from public eye for over two weeks. Is he gravely ill?

Apr 28, 2020 15:36 IST
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been missing from the public eye for over two weeks, which has given rise to many speculations especially regarding his health. According to a US monitoring intelligence, Kim Jong-un is in "grave danger" after undergoing a serious surgery recently. 

The North Korean leader reportedly missed his grandfather's birthday on April 15. Though he had been seen four days prior to that, his noticeable absense on the special day has led to speculations over his health and well-being. 

While some media reports suggest Kim Jong-un is gravely ill or brain dead, the others suggest that he is recovering from an operation. However, all the reports are difficult to verify, as this has not been confirmed by North Korea State media. The United States has been reportedly monitoring Kim Jong Un’s health closely. 

Where is Kim Jong Un?

US President Donald Trump said on April 27, 2020 that he had a good idea on how the North Korean leader was doing and hoped that he is fine. Trump did not elaborate further on the news. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also reportedly paying close attention to developments regarding Kim Jong-un. 

Is Kim Jong-un avoiding COVID-19 exposure?

There are speculations that the North Korean leader has disappeared from public eye to avoid exposure to coronavirus. North Korea has cancelled major events and imposed a border lockdown and strict quarantine measures to prevent an outbreak of the virus in the nation. 

Is North Korean leader 'gravely ill'?

According to many media reports,  Kim Jong-un is gravely ill or brain dead. He has also been reported to be recovering from an operation. South Korea has, however cautioned against the reports on Kim's health stated that they have not detected any unusual movements in the North. 

Officials from South Korea, while reacting to reports that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is gravely ill and is in danger, said that such reports are no true. The presidential office in South Korea’s capital- Seoul said that there have been no signs from the North that suggest or give away that the North Korean leader is in “grave danger”. However, there is no confirmation on this claim as well. 

While the state media of North Korea has not reported anything related to their leader's whereabouts, they have carried reports of him sending letter and messages, indicating that he is still carrying out his national duties. 

When did speculation start?

A leading international media house reported that it got information from an online newspaper based in South Korea that focuses on North Korea that the North Korean leader reportedly underwent a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12 due to “excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork." He is reported to be receiving treatment currently in a villa in Hyangsan County.

Kim Jong Un last appeared in front of the North Korean state media on April 11. He remained conspicuously absent on April 15, the birth anniversary of his grandfather and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung. The day is one of the biggest events of the year in North Korea.

Whenever one of the three North Korean leaders has gone missing from the public eye for a prolonged period or missed an important celebrations in the past, it has always led to speculations over their health and most of the times they have turned out to be true. 

Major past absences by North Korean leaders 

2008: Kim’s father, Kim Jong II had similarly missed the parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary in 2008. His absence from the major event was followed by rumours of his poor health. Later, it was revealed that he had suffered a stroke, following which, his health continued to decline and he passed away in 2011. 

2011: Kim Jong Un had disappeared from the public view for over a month in 2014, which had led to rumours about his ill health. The leader was later spotted with a cane and it was reported that he had a cyst removed from his ankle.

Who is Kim Jong-un’s legal heir?

There is no known heir to the 36-year-old North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un reportedly has three children but none have been projected as the next line for the primary leadership of North Korea. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, can be the potential successor. She has been constantly present along with her brother at key summits. 

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