US media has reported that Kim Jung-Un is in ‘grave danger’ and in a ‘fragile condition’ after unspecified surgery.
Speculation about Kim’s health was raised after he missed a celebration honouring his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.
He had been seen four days before that at a government meeting.
South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement no suspicious activity had been detected in North Korea that may have given backing to the reports.
The absence of Kim’s father and predecessor as the country’s leaders, Kim Jong Il, absence from a parade celebrating North Korea’s 60th anniversary in 2008 was followed by rumours that he was in poor health.
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It was later revealed he had a stroke, after which his health declined further until his death in 2011.
CNN quoted Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea, as saying rumours had circulated recently about Mr Kim’s health.
‘There have been a number of recent rumours about Kim’s health (smoking, heart, and brain),’ the network quoted Mr Klingner as saying.
‘If Kim is hospitalised, it would explain why he wasn’t present on the important April 15th celebrations.
‘But, over the years, there have been a number of false health rumours about Kim Jong-un, or his father. We’ll have to wait and see’.
Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of South Korea’s National Assembly’s foreign affairs and unification committee, said he was told by unspecified non-government sources that Kim had surgery over cardiovascular problems.
But an official from Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, who did not want to be named, citing office rules, said the spy agency could not confirm whether Kim had surgery.
Kim In-chul, spokesman of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said Seoul and Washington are maintaining close communication but did not provide a direct answer when asked whether the allies exchanged any meaningful intelligence about Kim’s health.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his government was monitoring the situation.