Hong Kong TV news channel HKSTV’s vice director, Qing Feng, claimed that according to a “very solid source,” Kim was dead.
Seoul(ANN)- North Korean leader’s train seen at resort town amid speculation about death, but last Tuesday South Korea and China have both refuted a CNN report that said the life of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in “grave danger” following a cardiovascular procedure, saying that he is not seriously ill.
Satellite images released by a US think tank have shown a special train probably belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un parked at a coastal resort town in the east of the country, as speculation rises about his whereabouts, poor health, and even death.
The Washington-based monitoring project 38 North said in a report on Saturday that the 250-meter-long train had been spotted at the “leadership station” in the Wonsan resort area on April 21 and 23, adding that the station was specifically reserved for the use of the Kim family.
The American think tank said the presence of the train did not mean that Kim was there, nor did it say anything about his health condition.
“The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,” the report said.
The Wonsan area is believed to be Kim’s residence outside the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
There has been speculation about Kim’s poor health following his absence from a major event on April 15 that marked the birth anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung.
The last time North Korea’s state media reported on Kim’s whereabouts was when he presided over a meeting on April 11 and a day later, when he inspected drills by fighter jets at an air defense unit in the capital.
Media reports said Kim had undergone a cardiovascular surgery earlier this month and was recovering at a resort in the north of Pyongyang.
Reports said the North Korean leader, who is in his mid-30s, needed urgent treatment due to alleged heavy smoking, obesity, and fatigue.
Citing an anonymous US official with access to intelligence, the CNN published a report on Monday saying Kim was in “grave danger” after the surgery.
But government sources in China and South Korea contradicted the CNN report.
Reuters reported on Friday that China had dispatched a team of medical experts to North Korea to advise on Kim.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong TV news channel HKSTV’s vice director, Qing Feng, claimed that according to a “very solid source,” Kim was dead.
Shukan Gendai, a Japanese magazine, also said that the North Korean leader was in a “vegetative state” after a heart surgery that went wrong earlier this month.
Pyongyang has released no official statement about Kim’s health and whereabouts yet.
But North Korea’s state Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Sunday that Kim had sent greetings to the staff working on the construction of Samjiyon City, one of the most ambitious development projects underway in the country.
The publication reported that Kim “sent thanks” to workers involved in the rebuilding of what was praised as an “ideal socialist village” by the North Korean leader himself, who officially inaugurated the renovated city in a lavish ceremony in early December last year.
Government sources in Seoul and Beijing on Tuesday contradicted the CNN report a day earlier that cited “a US official with direct knowledge” as saying that Washington “is monitoring intelligence” that Kim “is in grave danger after a surgery.”
Local media outlets in South Korea cited two government sources as saying that Kim was not gravely ill following an earlier press report in Seoul that had said the North Korean leader was receiving treatment after the surgery.
There has been speculation about Kim’s health following his absence from a major event on April 15 that marked the birth anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung.
“The reports about Kim’s health are not true,” Reuters reported, citing two South Korean government sources, adding that the presidential Blue House in Seoul also confirmed that there were no unusual signs coming from the North.
The report also cited an official with the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department as saying on Tuesday that Kim “is not believed to be critically ill,” noting that the department was the main Chinese body dealing with neighboring North Korea.
‘Kim recovering in east-coast villa’
Another Seoul-based website, Daily NK, cited unidentified sources within North Korea as adding that Kim was recovering at a villa in the Mount Kumgang resort county of Hyangsan on North Korea’s east coast after undergoing the cardiovascular procedure at a hospital on April 12.
Moreover, an authoritative US source familiar with Washington’s internal reporting on North Korea also challenged the CNN report.
North Korea’s state media reported on April 12 that Kim had visited a military airbase and observed maneuvers by fighter jets and attack aircraft on the eve of a national holiday commemorating the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung.
Two days later, North Korea launched multiple short-range anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea as warplanes fired air-to-surface missiles in another military exercise, according to South Korea’s military.