Anxieties were increasing for Kim Jong-un’s well being today after a US official said the dictator could possibly be in ‘grave danger’ after heart surgery – even though South Korea has played down the reports.
Washington is keeping track of intelligence that Kim is in a life threatening condition following his operation, CNN quoted an unnamed US official as saying.
Kim, 36, was last spotted at a government conference on April 11, and was surprisingly missing from the celebration of his late grandfather Kim Il-Sung’s birthday on April 15.
Daily NK, an outlet run mainly by North Korean defectors, said Kim had gone through a cardiovascular operation and was recuperating at a villa in North Phyongan province.
It is not clear what would transpire next if fears that Kim is ‘incapacitated or worse’ prove accurate, but his sister Kim Yo-jong is amongst the senior politicians who could possibly be in line to take control.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said: ‘We have no information to verify concerning rumours about Chairman Kim Jong-un’s medical condition which have been reported by some media outlets.
‘Also, no unusual developments have been detected inside North Korea.’
The Blue House later said Kim was thought to be staying in an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang with some of his close confidants.
Another US official, talking with the Associated Press, said the White House was already aware of anxieties about Kim’s health ahead of the latest reports surfaced on Monday night.
The official said the US had information that Kim might have gone through surgery and that complications might have made him ‘incapacitated or worse’.
However they stressed that the US had absolutely nothing to confirm if the surgery had taken place or that any complications had occurred.
‘We just don’t know,’ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House and State Department had no comment.