As rumors of Kim Jong-un's deteriorating health rise, China sends medical team to assess his condition: Report

It is being speculated that the supreme leader of the isolated nation is in serious condition after undergoing heart surgery on April 12. He is also said to have relocated to a private villa


                            As rumors of Kim Jong-un's deteriorating health rise, China sends medical team to assess his condition: Report
Kim Jong-un (Getty Images)

The world is awaiting updates on the health status of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un who reportedly underwent a health procedure earlier this month. US media sources said the leader in his mid-30s is in a "grave condition" and his prolonged absence from public life has fuelled speculations more.

Now, it has been reported that China has sent a team of medical experts to the country to advise on the health of the supreme leader.

Reuters cited three persons familiar with the development to exclusively report about China sending the team amid conflicting updates over the health of North Korea’s supreme leader. The news agency, however, could not confirm immediately what the Chinese team's trip to North Korea said about Kim's health conditions. 

The Chinese team was led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department and it left for North Korea on Thursday, April 23, Reuters cited two of the persons to say. The department deals with North Korea, one of China’s close allies in East Asia. 

Neither the liaison department nor the foreign ministry of China responded to Reuters' quest for a comment on the matter till late Friday, April 24. 

The news about Kim undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12 was reported by Daily NK, a South Korea-based website, earlier this week. It cited one unidentified source in North Korea while reporting. Kim was absent during the birth anniversary celebrations of his grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the nation, on April 15.

Officials in South Korea and China, however, have nullified reports suggesting that the North Korean leader was in grave danger. Official eyes in South Korea said they did not sense anything unusual across the northern border.

A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, South Korea (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, another report claimed North Korea's supreme leader recently traveled to an exclusive beach resort after people around him tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Pyongyang leader reportedly left the capital on his private train and headed to the Wonsan-Kalma peninsula last week, where he has a private villa.

Report incorrect, says Trump

On Thursday, April 23, President Donald Trump, who became the first US leader to have a meeting with the North Korean commander in June 2018, also refused to give much importance to the report that Kim was seriously ill.

"I think the report was incorrect," he told reporters but stopped short of saying whether he had been in touch with officials in Pyongyang.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Fox News that he had no information to share but that the US was keeping a close watch on the situation. The spokesperson of the State Department did not comment.
 
On Friday, April 24, a source in South Korea told Reuters that Kim was alive and would be back to make a public appearance. The source, however, refused to confirm anything on Kim's current health status or China’s involvement. 

Kim’s health problems are not new. In September-October 2014, he was away from public viewing for a long time but eventually appeared back. Speculation about the diminutive leader has been fuelled by facts that he is a heavy smoker, likes to consume cheese and his family has a history of cardiovascular problems.

Kim, who showed the intent of reconciliation with the outer world a couple of years before, took over reins in December 2011 after his father Kim Jong-Il passed away.

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