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Seoul says no suspicious activity in North amid Kim Jong Un concerns

In this April 24, 2019, file photo released by the Press office of the administration of Primorsky Krai region, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talks with Russian officials upon his arrival at the border station of Khasan, Primorsky Krai region, Russia. Photo: Alexander Safronov/Press Office of the Primorye Territory Administration via AP, File. In this April 24, 2019, file photo released by the Press office of the administration of Primorsky Krai region, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talks with Russian officials upon his arrival at the border station of Khasan, Primorsky Krai region, Russia.

The Associated Press
Updated: April 20, 2020 10:53 PM
Created: April 20, 2020 09:29 PM

UPDATE:

South Korea's presidential office says no suspicious activities have been detected in North Korea, a statement made Tuesday after reports surfaced that Kim Jong Un was in fragile condition after recent heart surgery.

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The presidential Blue House said it couldn't confirm Kim's current health. CNN had cited an anonymous U.S. official who said Kim was in "grave danger" after an unspecified surgery. Later, another US official told the same network that the concerns about Kim's health are credible but the severity is hard to assess.

Earlier, Daily NK had cited anonymous sources saying Kim was recovering from heart surgery in the capital Pyongyang and that his condition was improving.

Speculation about Kim's health was raised after he missed the celebration of his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, the country's most important holiday.


The South Korean government on Tuesday was looking into reports saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was in fragile condition after surgery.

An official from the National Intelligence Service, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, said the spy agency couldn't immediately confirm the report. CNN cited an anonymous U.S. official who said Kim was in "grave danger" after an unspecified surgery.

The Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said it wouldn't comment on the CNN report or another report by Daily NK, which cited anonymous sources saying Kim was recovering from heart surgery in the capital Pyongyang and that his condition was improving.

The presidential Blue House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Speculation about Kim's health was raised after he missed the celebration of his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, the country's most important holiday.

Outside governments and media have a mixed record on tracking developments among North Korea's ruling elite, made difficult by Pyongyang's stringent control of information about them.

In 2016, South Korea media quoted intelligence officials as saying Kim Jong Un had Ri Yong Gil, a former North Korean military chief, executed for corruption and other charges. But North Korea's state media months later showed that Ri was alive and in possession of several new senior posts.

Kim's absence from state media often triggers speculations or rumors about his health. In 2014, Kim vanished from the public eye for nearly six weeks before reappearing with a cane. South Korea's spy agency said days later that he had a cyst removed from his ankle.

Kim took power upon his father's death in December 2011 and is the third generation of his family to rule the nuclear-armed country.

Kim met President Donald Trump three times in 2018 and 2019 and had summits with other Asian leaders as he pursued diplomacy in hopes of ending crippling sanctions and getting security guarantees. But he maintained his right to a nuclear arsenal and most diplomacy has stalemated since.
 


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