While the speculations around the whereabouts of Kim Jong Un have intensified, experts suggest that the North Korean leader has been residing at his favoured resort near Wonsan. According to experts and satellite images, the recent movement of luxury boats indicates that he or his entourage may be in the Wonsan area.
Amid contradicting reports, a South Korean minister reportedly said that Kim Jong Un may be trying to avoid exposure to coronavirus. Unification Minister Kim Yeon-Chul, who oversees engagement with Pyongyang, reportedly told legislators on April 28 that the absence of North Korean leader from ceremonies was not unusual given his recent records.
The last reported presence of Kim was during a Politburo meeting on April 11 and since then he has missed key events that paved the way for speculations around his medical condition. The North Korean legislature held its third session on April 12 in the absence of its Supreme Leader. Kim also remained absent from commemorations of his grandfather’s birth anniversary, triggering speculations around unusual break away from traditions.
The South Korean minister highlighted that many anniversary events including celebrations and a banquet had been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns. He said that there were at least two instances since mid-January when the North Korean leader remained out of sight for nearly 20 days, adding that the absence is not “particularly unusual” due to coronavirus crisis.
However, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA has been unusually silent on the condition of Kim which is palpable in its reports. While it has mentioned about the North Korean leader issuing orders and taking other actions as if business as usual, it has neither disclosed the location nor clarified on his health condition.
US media had earlier reported that Kim contracted COVID-19 from a Chinese doctor who had flown in to help him with a cardiovascular procedure. Contradictory reports have been emerging since then in which some suggested 'stable condition' while some claimed that the North Korean leader went brain-dead after surgery.
(Image credit: AP)