The North Korean leader had been absent for several weeks, sparking rumors and reports about his health after he missed an April 15 holiday celebration for his late grandfather.
The Seoul-based news site Daily NK reported that Kim was recovering from heart surgery at the Hyang San Hospital, north of Pyongyang, citing an unidentified person inside the country. A later report by UPI said Kim could simply be hiding out from the pandemic and that he likely evacuated to a safe house on North Korea’s eastern coast from the capital of Pyongyang weeks ago as a precaution.
Another report said Kim’s yacht had been spotted in the waters in the Wonsan area, suggesting the leader could be electing to ride out the coronavirus offshore.
North Korea’s regime keeps a tight lid on information about the leader. Much of what is learned about his health or movements is provided through secondhand intelligence.
Chang Song-min’s claims come after South Korean spies revealed Kim Yo Jong, 33, now serves as her brother’s second-in-command, though she has not been designated his successor.
Kim Yo Jong’s official title is first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee.