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In an apparent effort to prove that Kim Jon Un is not dead, North Korean state media reported Monday that the dictator recently sent a thank-you letter to the builders of his tourist resort in Wonsan.
The country’s main news outlet, the Rodong Sinmun, claimed Monday that Kim sent a message of appreciation to workers at the seaside resort, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has sent his appreciation to the workers who devoted themselves to building the Wonsan-Kalma tourist zone,” Rodong Sinmun allegedly reported. Yonhap added that the Korean Central Broadcasting Station carried similar news.
South Korea believes that Kim has been residing at the Wonsan report since April 13.
The report comes amid intensifying speculation about the health of Kim Jong Un, who has not been seen in public since April 11. His unusual absence from a key ceremony celebrating the 108th birth anniversary of the country’s first ruler, Kim Il Sung, was noted in particular.
Then last week, unverified reports began circulating that Un was in “grave danger” following surgery. Over the weekend, Japanese media reported that Kim indeed underwent a surgery that left him in a “vegetative state.”
The Trump administration has not yet confirmed whether or not they believe Kim to be dead, but have reportedly been informed that if he’s alive, his health is poor. Officials have been looking into who would be in the line of succession should the ruler be deceased.
In a Fox News interview Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that he would “be shocked if [Kim is] not dead or in some incapacitated state.”
A vice director of HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television, a Beijing-backed broadcast network in Hong Kong, claimed that Kim was dead, citing a “very solid source.” Her post on the Chinese messaging app Weibo has been shared widely on social media, according to a report in the International Business Times.
The outlet reports — citing a Chinese medical expert privy to the situation — that Kim had clutched his chest in early April and fell down while visiting the countryside there.
He needed a stent procedure done, but apparently … it either wasn’t done rapidly enough, or it was botched completely by the surgeon — with some reports saying he had shaky hands.
The South Korean government has pushed back against reports that the North’s ruler is dead, saying last Tuesday that Kim appeared to be handling affairs as usual. South Korean officials added that they have no information to confirm the rumors about Kim’s health.
Meanwhile, other unverified rumors are that Kim may have been injured during a recent missile test and that he went into hiding after one of his bodyguards was suspected to have contracted COVID-19, according to the Mirror.
A unnamed source in China told the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo that Kim skipped the birthday bash for his late grandfather because of his guard’s possible infection, the UK news outlet reported.
Another South Korean outlet, Dong-A Ilbo, quoted an unnamed US official as saying Kim left Pyongyang for Wonsan to avoid the virus, the Mirror reported.