According to a top security adviser to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong-un, the North Korean Supreme Leader is “alive and well”, downplaying reports over Kim’s health following his absence from public showings, including a key anniversary.
Conjecture over Kim Jong-un has grown since his conspicuous no-show at the April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the North’s founder — the most important day in the country’s political calendar.
“Our government position is firm,” said Moon’s special adviser on national security Moon Chung-in, in an interview with CNN on Sunday, April 26, 2020. “Kim Jong-un is alive and well.”
The adviser said that Kim had been staying in Wonsan — a resort town in the country’s east — since April 13, adding: “No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
Kim has not made a public appearance since presiding over a Workers’ Party politburo meeting on April 11, and the following day state media reported that he inspected fighter jets at an air defense unit.
His absence unleashed a series of unconfirmed media reports over his condition, which officials in Seoul previously downplayed.
“We have nothing to confirm and no special movement has been detected inside North Korea as of now,” the South’s presidential office said in a statement last week.
South Korea’s unification minister Kim Yeon-Chul reiterated Monday that remained the case, adding the “confident” conclusion was drawn from “a complex process of intelligence gathering and assessment”.
The comments came two years after Kim and Moon’s first summit in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.
Seoul marked this anniversary with a ceremony at the South’s northernmost train station, seeking to highlight its commitment to a cross-border railway project.
But inter-Korean relations are largely frozen with talks between Washington and Pyongyang at a standstill, and there was no indication of any commemoration in the North.