The duties of the supreme leader would be carried out by his sister, Kim Yo-jong if Kim Jong Un were incapacitated, experts say.
New speculations about North Korean leader’s health have been fired after his unusual absence from events last week marking his grandfather’s birthday and with reports that Kim Jong Un underwent surgery.
The US was observing intelligence reports that Kim may be in “grave danger after a surgery,” CNN reported, citing a US official with direct knowledge of the matter. The White House declined to comment on the CNN report while South Korean officials suggested that it was “not true” that Kim was seriously ill.
No “unusual movements in the North are being detected” while the Yonhap news agency said Presidential Blue House spokesman Kang Min-suk, quoting unidentified government sources said, “Chairman Kim is currently staying in the countryside with his close aides.”
The source added, “Neither the party, nor the military, nor the government shows any unusual movements such as raising an emergency alarm … it seems that Chairman Kim is working normally.”
There were different theories circulating about Kim’s health, an apprised source in South Korea with access to intelligence on North Korea said.
The source said, “But it seems to be accurate that he underwent cardiovascular surgery on April 12… and that he is now in grave danger.”
“Something unusual is happening in Pyongyang … Pyongyang has been under a lockdown imposed by the North’s State Security Ministry,” he added.
Kim Jong Un, 36, is a heavy smoker, has been seen in state media in recent months appearing at military drills and riding a white horse on the country’s revered Mt Paektu, where state propaganda says his grandfather used as a guerilla base to fight Japanese colonial occupiers.
North Korea has been battling to prevent COVID-19 spread, which has led to cutting back on celebrations and some other major events and for cadres to appear in protective masks in public events with Kim.