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North Korean sympathizer calls news on Kim’s health ‘false’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (COURTESY OF KCNA)

The head of the Korean Friendship Association, a group that says it receives official information from North Korea, called news reports that Kim Jong Un is gravely ill untrue.

Alejandro Cao de­Benos said “information about the serious state of health of our Marshal Kim Jong Un is false and malicious,” according to a post on Twitter. Cao did not say where he got the information and declined further comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

Kim has been reported to be in critical condition after undergoing cardiovascular surgery. U.S. officials said Monday they were told Kim’s condition was critical after the operation, though they were unsure of his current health. President Donald Trump on Thursday cast doubt about a CNN report saying the North Korean leader was gravely ill.

Kim was conspicuously absent from the April 15 birthday celebration for his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who founded the nation. He has not been seen since he reportedly visited a military unit on April 12, raising speculation about his condition.

The Korean Friendship Association was founded in November 2000 with the intention of building international ties with North Korea, it said on its website. The group says it has membership in 120 countries, and has “full recognition from the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and is the world-wide leading organization of its supporters.”

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The group organizes tours to North Korea, and Cao regularly travels to the country. He was featured in the 2015 documentary “The Propaganda Game,” a case study on propaganda that focuses on North Korea.

The association’s website describes Cao as a special delegate of North Korea’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

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© 2020 Bloomberg News

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