by WorldTribune Staff, April 28, 2020
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is not dead, but went into seclusion after at least one of his bodyguards tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, South Korea’s JoongAng Daily (KJD) reported on Sunday, citing a Chinese source “familiar with North Korean affairs.”
Kim Jong-Un’s absence from public life had been noted after he skipped the April 15 birthday celebration for his late grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung. The KJD’s source said Kim skipped the celebration because “there was a problem within the Supreme Guard Command in charge of guarding North Korea’s top leader.”
Specifically, the source said a member of Kim’s bodyguard detail tested positive for the coronavirus, which raised the possibility that Kim himself might become infected.
U.S. President Trump on Monday said that he knows how the North Korean leader is doing and said the American people could be finding out in the “not-too-distant future.”
Asked during a White House briefing whether he had any updates on Kim’s health, Trump said: “I can’t tell you, exactly — yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can’t talk about it now. I just wish him well.”
Trump added: “I hope he’s fine. I do know how he’s doing, relatively speaking. We will see. You will probably be hearing in the not-too-distant future.”
KJD’s source disputed claims by Western media outlets that Kim has either died or suffered severe complications from heart surgery. The South Korean government also maintains that Kim is “alive and well.”
On Monday, the North Korean regime produced a letter supposedly written by Kim as proof he is alive and well. No images, sound, or other evidence was provided to accompany state media accounts of the letter, which ostensibly sent Kim’s thanks to “the workers and officials at the construction site of the Wonsan-Kalma tourist resort.”
38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, said Saturday that satellite images from last week showed a special train that was probably Kim’s at Wonsan, lending weight to reports he had been spending time in the resort area.
“The North Korean regime officially maintains there have been zero cases of coronavirus infection within its borders, so Kim could not announce he was going into quarantine and could not afford to appear in public if there was the slightest chance he, or a member of his entourage, looked visibly ill,” Breitbart News noted.
But if Kim Jong-Un is hiding out due to fears surrounding the China virus, it would “puncture a hole in the state media narrative of how this crisis has been perfectly managed,” said Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, which monitors North Korea.
“If he is merely trying to avoid infection, it should theoretically be very easy to release photos or videos of a healthy-looking Kim,” O’Carroll said.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported on Sunday that a team of medical experts from the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing, one of China’s most elite hospitals, has been dispatched to North Korea for reasons unknown. The report said the team is led by a senior Chinese diplomat named Song Tao and includes doctors who normally handle the medical needs of senior Chinese Communist Party officials.