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South Korea: We Don't Buy Rumors About Kim

Government in Seoul casts doubts on reports of him being in dire condition
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2020 6:21 AM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2020 6:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – As Kim Jong Un remains out of the public eye, South Korea is firmly denouncing reports that the North Korean leader is in dire health. The South's unification minister, Kim Yeon-chul, told a closed-door forum in Seoul that the South has "enough intelligence to confidently say that there are no unusual developments" in regard to Kim's health, per CBS News. A second South Korean official earlier said Kim was "alive and well." The denials are unusual for the South, reports the New York Times, which notes that Seoul usually takes a "neither-confirm-nor-deny policy" on such things. This time, however, it's taking pains to deny the reports. “I want to emphasize that when officials say such things, they don’t do it idly,” said the unification minister, who said the denials were based on complex intelligence assessments.

Kim did not make a public appearance during a major holiday on April 15 and hasn't been in public since then. Reports in South Korean media suggested he had some kind of heart operation, per Reuters, and outlets including CNN reported he was in "grave danger." At least one South Korean official did suggest something was up. “There has not been any report showing he’s making policy decisions as usual since April 11, which leads us to assume that he is either sick or being isolated because of coronavirus concerns,” said Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the foreign and unification committee in South Korea’s National Assembly. For the record, the North has not reported a single COVID-19 case. Meanwhile, the North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun announced that Kim sent his thanks on Sunday to workers who helped remodel the city of Samjiyon. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)

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