South Korea: No Unusual Activity From North Amid Kim Health Claims

Kim Jong-un
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Representatives from the government of South Korea have responded to claims that North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un is in “grave condition”, with government sources stating they have not observed heightened levels of unusual activity occurring in the hermit kingdom.

A spokesman for the South Korean president, Kang Min-seok said that “no unusual signs have been identified inside North Korea,” adding: “there is nothing we can confirm with regard to Chairman Kim’s alleged health problem.”

Another source within the government told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that the “North Korea’s Workers’ Party, the military, the cabinet are not showing any special moves, such as an emergency alert.”

On Monday, the Seoul based Daily NK online newspaper reported that Kim Jong-un had undergone heart surgery in a hospital exclusive to the Kim family near Mount Myohyang.

“Kim had suffered from inflammation of blood vessels involving the heart from last August, but his condition worsened after he made multiple trips up and down Mt. Paektu recently,” a North Korean source is alleged to have told the paper.

“Mt. Paektu has low atmospheric pressure, which is not a suitable environment to visit frequently or stay in for long periods of time if you’re dealing with blood pressure problems or inflammation of the blood vessels,” he added.

The source claimed that a helicopter and the dictator’s personal car were spotted leaving Pyongyang on April 12, the same day that the heart surgery supposedly occurred.

A report from CNN followed, citing an anonymous American official who is quoted as saying that the leader is in “grave danger” following recent surgery. NBC News’ Katy Tur added more fuel to the fire after she posted on social media that the North Korean dictator was “brain dead”, before later deleting the post.

The chair of the South Korean National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, Representative Yoon Sang-hyun said that he had received reports that Kim had undergone a heart-related surgery, but that he was currently unaware of the dictator’s current health status.

“Some informed sources say that (Kim) had an ankle surgery; some claim that he is under quarantine at Mount Myohyang (near Hyangsan) due to COVID-19. There also are those who say that Kim underwent a cardiovascular procedure but that he is not in as serious of a condition (as reported),” he said.

An official for the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, which deals with North Korean affairs, told Reuters that the leader is not believed to be in critical condition.

Rumours about Kim Jong-un’s health ramped up over the past week after he missed nation’s most important holiday, the birthday celebration for Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong-un and the founder of the reclusive communist nation.

Chairman Kim has long been reported to suffer from health issues as a result of heavy smoking and obesity.  His absences in the past have sparked speculation about his health, notably in 2014 when he disappeared from public view for approximately 40 days, before returning with a limp.

Kim became the head of the communist nation following the death of his father, Kim-Jong-il, who died of a heart attack in 2011.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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