PYONGYANG – The state radio of the DPRK reported on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had expressed “appreciation” for workers taking part in building the city of Samjiyon amid speculation on the leader’s health and possible demise, according to the South Korean state-run news agency Yonhap. There was no elaboration, however, on his health conditions or on Kim’s public activities.
“Comrade Kim Jong-un sent appreciation to workers earnestly and wholeheartedly supporting in furnishing Samjiyon. Workers are in burning passion to earnestly contribute to the construction of a socialist powerhouse without forgetting about the party’s trust and expectation for any moment,” the state radio said.
On 22 April, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim had sent a reply to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s congratulations on Kim Il Sung’s birthday. No details regarding Kim’s whereabouts or health conditions were given.
Other state media in North Korea did not report on the leader’s activities, and no new photos of the leader have been published, according to Yonhap. His most recent photo appeared on KCNA alongside reports of Kim’s inspection of air defense forces in the western part of DPRK on April 12.
Speculation on Kim’s health began earlier in the month, when CNN reported that he had “undergone surgery” and was said to be in “grave danger”. Kim did not appear at the high-profile annual celebration of his grandfather’s birthday, a major and important occasion in North Korea. Reports followed speculation suggesting that the leader might be dead. The allegations have not been confirmed by any of the officials.
Reuters has reported that China has sent a team of medical experts to North Korea to advise on Kim amid conflicting reports about his health. A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.
The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighboring North Korea. It was not immediately clear what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health, the report added.