International media headlines have undergone some changes following reports from South Korea that Kim Jong-un isn’t dead or even in grave condition. This coincided with the North’s state media citing his message to workers.
Major news outlets rushed to quote Moon Chung-in, a national security adviser to South Korea’s president, who said on Sunday that the North Korean leader has been staying in the coastal town of Wonsan, downplaying the death rumors. Seoul’s position is “firm” that Kim Jong-un, believed to be 36 years of age, “is alive and well,” the senior official stated.
Around the same time the remarks were made public, state newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim sent his greetings to workers building a tourism complex in Wonsan, one of the country’s fastest-growing leisure locations. “Dearest leader Kim Jong-un thanked the workers who actively supported the construction,” a brief article reads.
Previously, a report that a private train, said to belong to Kim, appeared to be parked in the same city. Research group 38 North cited satellite imagery claiming that the train had remained at the railway station since at least April 21.
Speculation has grown about Kim’s health after he missed a Korea Workers’ Party politburo meeting on April 11, and was conspicuously absent from the April 15 celebrations marking the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-sung – one of the prime political events of the hermit state.
Last week, CNN reported that Kim is in “grave danger” after undergoing unsuccessful cardiovascular surgery. Citing unnamed sources, the network said concerns over the North Korean leader’s health are “credible,” but their severity is hard to assess. Since then, rumors about Kim’s health have circulated – all based on sources due to the lack of any official data.