Speed Reads

nothing unusual?

'Kim Jong Un is alive and well,' South Korean official asserts

South Korean officials are refuting the idea that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seriously ill or dead as rumors about his health continue to spread.

After Kim's unusual absence from the commemoration of his grandfather's birthday on April 15, CNN reported last week that the U.S. is monitoring intelligence that he is "in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery," although The Washington Post reports that U.S. and South Korean intelligence services "remain skeptical" that he's dead or gravely ill. Over the weekend, satellite imagery showed what's believed to be a train belonging to Kim in Wonsan.

South Korea had previously said it's detected "no unusual signs" supporting reports about Kim's health, and Moon Chung-in, foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, now tells CNN, "Kim Jong Un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected."

Reuters reports that Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the foreign and unification committee in South Korea's National Assembly, did say Monday, "There has not been any report showing he's making policy decisions as usual since April 11, which leads us to assume that he is either sick or being isolated because of coronavirus concerns." But South Korea's unification minister, Kim Yeon-chul, also said on Sunday, "Our government has enough information-gathering capabilities to say confidently that there is nothing unusual" about Kim's health, The New York Times reports. The Times notes that for a senior South Korean official to be publicly disputing reports about North Korea's leadership is "highly unusual."