The absence of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from media reports on Wednesday has fuelled speculations about his health. Speculations were rife especially as multiple reports in international media had stated that the leader was unwell after a cardiovascular procedure.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried several stories on their Wednesday issue, but there were no mentions of his whereabouts. On April 12, a Seoul-based website called Daily NK had reported that Kim was hospitalised hours before his cardiovascular procedure. The report also said that his health has been deteriorating since August owing to smoking, obesity and overwork.
The speculations started when Kim missed the birthday celebration of Kim Il Sung, Kim's grandfather and North Korea's founding father, on April 15.
US media house CNN on Tuesday said that an unnamed US official has tipped them that the country is closely following up on intelligence on Kim's health.
Both China and South Korea have denied this claim. South Korea said that Kim seemed to be in an unspecified location outside North Korea's capital city Pyongyang and is engaged in state affairs as there was no movement by the ruling party, cabinet or the military.
US President Donald Trump, who met Kim in 2018 and 2019, also said that the US reports have not been confirmed and he did put much faith in them. "I've had a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un. And I'd like to see him do well. We'll see how he does. We don't know if the reports are true," he said in a White House news conference on Tuesday.
Kim's last appearance was on April 11, where he presided over a meeting to discuss preventive measures against coronavirus and elected his sister, Kim Yo Jong as an alternate member to the political bureau of the ruling Workers' Party. This was reported by KCNA, and since the North Korean media is heavily censored by the government, it is difficult to source news about him, unless the state media does so.
Back in 2014, he vanished from the public eye for six weeks only to reappear with a cane. South Korean spies reported that he had a cyst removed from his ankle.