Residents of North Korea have reportedly been resorting to panic buying supplies following rumors surrounding the health of Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. On Saturday, Jong-un was rumored to be either dead or brain dead after a botched surgery. Not long after, other reports started to refute that information.
Given the uncertainty, the capital city Pyongyang has been bought out of nearly all supplies by an anxious populous, The Washington Post reported on Sunday. Along with a disruption in shopping centers, helicopters hover low over the city while public transit has been significantly disrupted. The city is also populated by the country's elites who support the current regime, who are apparently also in the dark about Kim's condition. The outlet also noted that some of these elites were surprised that he had lasted as Supreme Leader as long as he had.
Following initial reports that Kim had died due to complications from heart surgery, South Korean intelligence claimed that he was not, in fact, dead. "Our government position is firm," Chung-in Moon, an aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told Fox News on Sunday. "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."
Moon's report was later confirmed by U.S. intelligence. While they admitted that the Supreme Leader's health is "among the North's most closely guarded secrets," they had no evidence to support that he was neither dead nor gravely ill.
38 North, a D.C.-based firm that monitors the country, have also pointed to a train that's believed to belong to Kim. "The train's presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country's eastern coast," the firm tweeted on Saturday, complete with a satellite image of the compound.
Much of the recent speculation has been centered on the fact that Kim an enormous celebration for the republic's 88th anniversary on April 15. Kim first became North Korea's leader after his father, Kim Jong Il, suffered a heart attack in 2011. Along with being an adversary to the U.S., North Korea is known for severely limiting information to its citizens, persecuting its critics and prison labor camps where whole families are persecuted for the crimes of one person.