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South Korean, US officials refute reports claiming North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in ‘grave’ health

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presides over a military parade on April 15, 2017. Kim warned of a "new strategic weapon" the world would see in 2020. (Yonhap News/Newscom/Zuma Press/TNS)
April 22, 2020

Reports on Monday night said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had become gravely ill following a recent surgery, however, South Korean and U.S. government officials have since denied such reports.

Yonhap News Agency reported an unnamed South Korean government source who said “there is nothing unusual going on in North Korea,” and refuted a CNN report claiming Kim was in ‘grave’ health. “It’s not true,” the source said of the CNN report.

Yonhap’s unnamed source added, “North Korea’s Workers’ Party, the military, the cabinet are not showing any special moves, such as an emergency alert.”

Seoul-based Daily NK had initially reported late Monday that Kim was recovering from a heart procedure he needed due to “excessive smoking, obesity and overwork.” CNN later reported that Kim’s health had taken a turn for the worst.

Kang Min-seok, a spokesman for President Moon Jae-in also provided Yonhap an official statement assessing they saw no signs to corroborate CNN’s reporting.

“No unusual signs have been identified inside North Korea,” Kang said. “There is nothing we can confirm with regard to Chairman Kim’s alleged health problem.”

Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten told reporters at a Wednesday press conference, “I assume Kim Jong Un is still in full control of the Korean nuclear force and the Korean military forces.”

Hyten reportedly said the U.S. had received no intelligence to suggest Kim was not in control.

White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told Fox News the U.S. is closely monitoring reports about Kim’s health.

During his Tuesday White House coronavirus press briefing, President Donald Trump was also asked to comment on claims Kim is in a compromised state of health.

“Well, these are reports that came out, and we don’t know. We don’t know,” Trump answered. “I’ve had a very good relationship with him. You know, I can only say this, I wish him well. Because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say that’s a very serious condition. But I wish him well. We’ve had a good relationship. I’ve said it. I’ve said it many times. If somebody else were in this position, we would have been, right now, at war with North Korea. And we’re not at war and we’re nowhere close to war with North Korea.”

“It was CNN that came out with,” Trump added. “So when CNN comes out with a report I don’t place too much credence in it.”