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Kim Jong-un death: Japan thinks Covid-19 has killed dictator after 'very strange movements' in North Korea

The North Korean dictator has only made a handful of public appearances in recent months, resulting in widespread speculation about his death
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Japan has said it has "some suspicions" about Kim Jong-un's health amid the coronavirus pandemic, rekindling rumors about his possible death.

The North Korean dictator has only made a handful of public appearances in recent months, resulting in widespread speculation about his well being.

The first wave of reports claiming the North Korean supremo's physical decline or death came after Kim failed to attend celebrations marking the birth of his grandfather Kim Il-sung on April 15. Some reports claimed he died after a botched heart operation after suffering a heart attack while on a walk.

But Kim Jong-un finally showed up on May 1, after an absence of 20 days, to inaugurate a newly commissioned fertilizer plant before going missing once again. He was next seen in pictures from a June 7 meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

And while state media has carried a series of stories on Kim Jong-un's diplomatic correspondence, they have not shown him attending notable public events.

Japanese defense minister Taro Kono told a press briefing on June 25 that recent movements observed in the hermit kingdom were “all very strange”.

"We have some suspicions about his [Kim Jong-un’s] health," he said. According to Kono, the "very strange movements" in North Korea were mostly precautionary measures taken by the state to ensure Kim is not infected as Covid-19 spreads around the country.

The minister explained that Japan, the US, and some other countries have been discussing and exchanging information about Kim, but added that he was "not allowed to discuss intelligence issues."

According to a report by The Sun, the North Korean leader's longest public absence was for a period of 40 days back in 2014. He was believed to have been recuperating from a medical procedure on his ankle at the time. Meanwhile, the secretive state continues to insist it hasn't recorded a single case of the novel coronavirus. Experts have said the spread of the deadly contagion could have worsened the already longstanding economic troubles within the country.

According to the Times, some observers of the country are once again speculating if Kim's health has severely deteriorated or he's dead.

North Korea has often been ridiculed for its nuclear program and has faced strict economic sanctions from several countries. Furthermore, the pandemic has caused its border with China — its main ally and trading partner — to temporarily remain closed.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and sister Kim Yo-jong attend the Inter-Korean Summit (Getty Images)

The Hermit Kingdom is reportedly determined to achieve a "nuclear war deterrent" to match the US despite the Covid-19 chaos. The North Korean Foreign Ministry has laid bare its plan to "combat American aggressions" in a 5,500-word report published ahead of the 70-year anniversary of the Korean War, according to NKNews.

North Korea said in its statement that it had missiles and nuclear weapons "capable of mercilessly punishing those who dare to raise a hand to the DPRK."

“This year, the US military is deploying all sorts of military maneuvers in South Korea and in the areas adjacent to it," it read. "The main purpose of [the maneuvers] is the movement and deployment of the American armed forces on the Korean peninsula from abroad and from the mainland and the quick delivery of an attack on the DPRK."