Kim Jong Un was last seen in public on April 11 at a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party. Now South Korea has announced that it knows the whereabouts of Kim Jong Un amid rumours that the leader had after reportedly being in critical condition from heart surgery earlier this month.
But Kim Yeon-chul, South Korea’s unification minister, has now said: “The government is aware of Kim Jong Un’s location.”
The minister gave no further explanation as to what that means for his status and wellbeing.
Kim Yeon-chul hinted that the leader may be laying low to avoid catching coronavirus.
The reports of the dictators death started from April 15, when he missed a Day of the Sun honouring his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
Kim Yeon-chul added North Korea has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but the country has taken stringent steps to head off an outbreak, meaning Kim’s absence from the ceremonies is not unusual.
Kim’s name has continued appearing in the country’s state-run media but an absence of photos of the leader has led to suspicions mounting.
North Korea’s daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun routinely publishes photos of Kim going about his daily activities.
The dictators last lengthy disappearance from public view came in October 2014, when he vanished for six weeks, reportedly for surgery on his ankle.
His current whereabouts are unknown, but satellite imagery showed his private train at his Wonsan compound as recently as April 23.
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Rumours of the North Korean figurehead’s health have become a major concern, as the United States sends five spy planes to monitor the country.
Four US eavesdropping aircraft will try to intercept messages about the Supreme Leader and his health, while one ground surveillance plane will monitor for unusual troop movements.
Three Beechcraft RC-12 Guardrail planes and one EO-5C ‘Crazy Hawk’ to scout over North Korea.
The US has also sent a Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS aircraft, which is used to collect imagery and track ground movements.
South Korea has also deployed a spy aircraft over its northern neighbour, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, despite Seoul’s insistence that Kim is alive and well.
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World leaders have commented on the health of Kim Jong Un.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday he has a good idea how Kim Jong Un is doing and hopes he is fine, but would not elaborate.
He said: ‘I wish him well, but I just don’t want to comment on it,”
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said he was aware of reports on Kim’s health and he was was paying close attention to developments.
The Washington Post has reported that the rumours of Kim Jong Un’s deaths has sparked panic in North Korea.
People have stocked up on rice, liquor, cigarettes, canned fish and electronics while helicopters have been flying low over the city.
North Korea has not reported their cases of coronavirus, claiming: “There is not even one infected person in our republic.”
Kim Myong, who held a senior government role in North Korea, said it was “absurd lies” to claim the country had no cases when the true number “very likely… exceeds imagination.”
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