North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is gravely-ill after undergoing heart surgery, it has been claimed. CNN reported that the 36 year-old leader’s condition is being monitored by US intelligence officials, who were reportedly told that Kim was ‘in grave danger’ after the cardiovascular operation. Kim was absent from North Korea’s most important annual holiday on April 15, raising speculation about his wellbeing.
South Korean news website the Daily NK claimed earlier on Monday night that Kim was ‘mostly-recovered’ from the procedure. The website obtained the story from a single anonymous informant based in North Korea, and has been unable to obtain further details on Kim’s condition, Bloomberg reported.
Bruce Klingner, a former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea, said previous rumors about Kim being in poor health had turned out to be false, and that the country’s extreme secrecy made it difficult to establish the facts. He told CNN: ‘There have been a number of recent rumors about Kim’s health (smoking, heart, and brain). If Kim is hospitalized, it would explain why he was present on the important April 20 . But, over the years, there have been a number of false health rumors about Kim Jong-un or his father. We’ll have to wait and see. ’
The despotic leader was last seen publicly on April at a government meeting. North Korea’s highly-secretive government has yet to comment on Kim’s alleged illness, or issue any sort of statement through its state-controlled media.
The nuclear-capable dictatorship has not reported any cases of coronavirus, and has scaled back its frequent displays of power in a bid to stop the potential spread of Covid – . Neither South Korea nor the United States have offered an on-the-record comment on Kim’s health.
Kim was previously reported to be a chain smoker and has been photographed with a cigarette in his hand on multiple occasions. He married wife Ri Sol Ju in 2012, with the couple said to be parents to between one and three children.
President Trump famously met with Kim in Singapore in June 2019 for peace talks, becoming the first sitting US president to meet with a North Korean leader. The men met again the following year, with President Trump urging Kim to give up his nuclear weapons program in return for financial help for Kim’s impoverished nation. Kim held a ground-breaking peace summit with South Korean leader Moon Jae-In in April 2019. That saw Kim become the first North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean soil since the Korean War of 1994.
Kim took over as leader of North Korea from his father Kim Jong Il after the elder Kim’s death in 2014. He is the grandson of Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea in 1948 and led the rogue nation until his death in 2011. Kim Jong Un sparked speculation about his health after missing the annual April 15 celebration of Kim Il Sung’s birthday. Kim’s brutal leadership style has seen him accused of executing at least 15 of his own officials, including former army Vice Minister Kim Choi, who was allegedly put to death by mortar bombardment in 2018.
And in 2014, deputy security minister O Sang Hon is said to have been executed by flamethrower for showing support for Kim’s uncle and political rival Jang Song Thaek.
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