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South Korea, China say North Korea’s Kim not gravely ill as CNN claimed

This undated picture, released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 10, 2020, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd-R) inspecting a drill of mortar sub-units of corps of the Korean People’s Army at an undisclosed location. (KCNA via KNS via AFP)

South Korea and China have both refuted a CNN report that said the life of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in “grave danger” following a cardiovascular procedure, saying that he is not seriously ill.

Government sources in Seoul and Beijing on Tuesday contradicted the CNN report a day earlier that cited “a US official with direct knowledge” as saying that Washington “is monitoring intelligence” that Kim “is in grave danger after a surgery.”

Local media outlets in South Korea cited two government sources as saying that Kim was not gravely ill following an earlier press report in Seoul that had said the North Korean leader was receiving treatment after the surgery.

There has been speculation about Kim’s health following his absence from a major event on April 15 that marked the birth anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung.

“The reports about Kim’s health are not true,” Reuters reported, citing two South Korean government sources, adding that the presidential Blue House in Seoul also confirmed that there were no unusual signs coming from the North.

The report also cited an official with the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department as saying on Tuesday that Kim “is not believed to be critically ill,” noting that the department was the main Chinese body dealing with neighboring North Korea.

‘Kim recovering in east-coast villa’

Another Seoul-based website, Daily NK, cited unidentified sources within North Korea as adding that Kim was recovering at a villa in the Mount Kumgang resort county of Hyangsan on North Korea’s east coast after undergoing the cardiovascular procedure at a hospital on April 12.

Moreover, an authoritative US source familiar with Washington’s internal reporting on North Korea also challenged the CNN report.

North Korea’s state media reported on April 12 that Kim had visited a military airbase and observed maneuvers by fighter jets and attack aircraft on the eve of a national holiday commemorating the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung.

Two days later, North Korea launched multiple short-range anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea as warplanes fired air-to-surface missiles in another military exercise, according to South Korea’s military.

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