Speculation continues over the condition of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

Speculation over the fate of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been rife ever since media reports of his having undergone a cardiovascular surgery surfaced.

While South Korean officials repeatedly maintain that Jong-Un is “alive and well”, there still remains a level of uncertainty, especially in the wake of conflicting reports from other sources. As North Korea remains isolated from the rest of the world, information about it often comes through South Korea.

Jong-Un has noticeably been absent from public events over the past two weeks. Importantly, he was absent during the celebrations on the most important day in the North Korean calendar. This was April 15, known as the Day of the Sun, the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea. Daily NK, a website that focuses on North Korea, first broke the news about his alleged cardiovascular surgery, which was, supposedly, because of “excessive smoking, obesity and overwork.” 

Daily NK, a website that focuses on North Korea, first broke the news about his alleged cardiovascular surgery, which was, supposedly, because of “excessive smoking, obesity and overwork.”

Meanwhile, Moon Chung-in, top foreign policy and security adviser to the South Korean President maintained that Kim Jong-Un was “alive and well”, that “no suspicious movements have so far been detected.” and that Jong-Un had been staying in Wonsan, a coastal town in the East. Satellite images, according to a think-tank called 38 North, have spotted a train that recently arrived at Jong-Un’s Wonsan compound. This may suggest, but not confirm, that he is at the compound. This train has also been repositioned for departure, according to 38 North’s report. Further, a recent North Korean newspaper report said that Jong-Un had sent a message of thanks to workers on one of North Korea’s coastal tourism projects. 

On the other hand, some media reports have suggested the opposite. They say that the United States is monitoring Jong-Un’s health, and that he is “in grave danger after a surgery”. There are theories about the present COVID19 situation playing into the situation as well. If, in any case, Jong-Un passes away, his younger sister Kim Yo-jong is widely poised to succeed him to power, in what could have a major effect nationally as well as internationally. Clearer information is still awaited.