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Speculations mounting over Kim Jong

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a political bureau meeting of the ruling Workers' Party,<strong></strong> April 11, according to the North's state media reports the day after. A South Korean media outlet reported, Monday, that Kim received a cardiovascular surgery on April 12 and his condition was improving, while CNN reported he is in grave danger. Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a political bureau meeting of the ruling Workers' Party, April 11, according to the North's state media reports the day after. A South Korean media outlet reported, Monday, that Kim received a cardiovascular surgery on April 12 and his condition was improving, while CNN reported he is in grave danger. Yonhap

By Kim Rahn

Speculation is rising on the physical condition of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, following reports of a suspected cardiovascular surgical procedure.

While South Korean online media dealing with North Korea issues reported he was recovering from the recent operation, CNN reported he was "in grave danger."

Citing a local source in the North, the South Korean media outlet the Daily NK reported Monday that Kim underwent the surgery at Hyangsan Medical Center near Mount Myohyang in North Pyongan Province, an exclusive hospital for the Kim family, April 12, and has been receiving treatment at his vacation home nearby.

According to the Daily NK, the procedure was performed by a surgeon from Kim Man Yu Hospital, the North's most up-to-date medical facility in Pyongyang, attended by other renowned doctors in the country who were mobilized to Hyangsan. Most of them were sent back to Pyongyang, Sunday, as Kim's condition was improving and only a few are still there to check on his condition, the source said.

However, CNN reported, Tuesday morning (KST), that the U.S. had monitored intelligence that Kim was in a serious condition after the surgery, citing a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter.

However, citing an official from the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department, Reuters reported Kim was not believed to be critically ill.

Kim's grandfather and the country's founder Kim Il-sung as well as father Kim Jong-il all died from acute myocardial infarction, and the latter is known to have suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Experts have noted the current leader could easily develop cardiovascular system-related diseases because of his family history, obesity and smoking habit.

Regarding the reports, Cheong Wa Dae said later in the day that there had been no unusual signs to suggest Kim was suffering from a health problem.

"As to the reports on Chairman Kim Jong-un's health issue, we have nothing to confirm, and so far we haven't spotted any specific signs within the North," presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said in a message to reporters.

An official from the unification ministry also said it had no official comment about the reports.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a political bureau meeting of the ruling Workers' Party, April 11, according to the North's state media reports the day after. A South Korean media outlet reported, Monday, that Kim received a cardiovascular surgery on April 12 and his condition was improving, while CNN reported he is in grave danger. Yonhap
Ranking officials of North Korea attend a ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, April 15, to mark the anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth, in this photo released by the North's state-run Rodong Sinmun, April 16. Current leader Kim Jong-un did not attend, raising speculation about his health. Yonhap

Whether he is in a serious condition or is in recovery, it seems the surgery was why Kim wasn't present at an event Wednesday commemorating the birth of his grandfather and North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung.

On Thursday, the North's state media said leaders of the Worker's Party attended the event at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang the previous day, without mentioning Kim's absence. This was the first time that he has missed the important celebration since he took power in 2012.

Speculation and rumors about Kim's health have emerged whenever he has missed important political meetings or events. But each time, he made a public appearance several days later.

In 2014, he was away from the public eye for over a month, but returned with a cane. South Korea's spy agency said later that he'd had a cyst removed from his ankle.


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