A new report out of South Korea claims that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "alive and well," despite widespread reports that he is mortally ill or even dead. The report comes from South Korean foreign policy adviser Chun-in Moon. On Sunday, Chung-in Moon told Fox News that the official stance of South Korea's government is that Kim is not dead.
"Our government position is firm," said Chung-in Moon, an aide to South Korean president Moon Jae-in. "Kim Jong-un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected." Kim has not been seen in public since at least April 12, notably missing at least one major holiday for his country on April 15.
Still, the South Korean government is confident that he is alive in Wonsan, a North Korean port city with a strong military presence. This contradicts a report from the Hong Kong Satellite Television network, citing a "very solid source" who said that Kim had passed away.
South Korean and Chinese media outlets have reported that Kim underwent a cardiovascular surgery on April 12 at a coastal resort in his country. Some unconfirmed reports later claimed that the surgeon operating on Kim had been so nervous that their hands were shaking, leading to a catastrophic mistake in the operation.
Yet another report from Japan's Shukan Gendai magazine said that Kim had been left in a "vegetative state" by the surgery. These conflicting stories led to widespread confusion, with "Kim Jong-un dead" trending on Twitter for most of the day on Saturday.0comments
Now, South Korean officials are weighing in. Other sources from the country spoke to Fox News on Sunday as well, with one saying that the possibility of Kim dying soon was only a "remote possibility." They added: "The rumors are mixing and merging, getting less reliable... I don't see how we can go from rumors and speculation to fact and interpretation until the North Koreans themselves decide to share something about his condition."
Still, the North Korean state-run media outlet KCNA is ignoring the stories of Kim's death altogether in any broadcasts that leave the country. There may not be any definitive answer on Kim's status until he either makes a public appearance, or the North Korean media decides to break its silence. With the country's reputation for suppressing unfavorable news stories, that may be challenging.