MOSCOW, April 26. /TASS/. The reports on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s health problems originate from anonymous sources, which are not credible, a leading research fellow at the Korean Studies Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Far East, Konstantin Asmolov, told TASS on Sunday.
"What we have now is only that Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public since April 11. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) writes that he is sending congratulatory telegrams, thanking someone and is working with documents. But there is also information that a plane with doctors has come from China to either provide treatment for Kim or discuss the coronavirus. All the rest is information coming from anonymous sources, and it’s unclear if they exist or not. This could be fake news invented by mass media, which can be correctly described by the term ‘garbage propaganda,’" Asmolov said, commenting on the speculation about Kim’s health.
The expert noted that the reports about North Korea are fueled by the country’s secrecy, although often they have nothing to do with reality. Speaking on Kim’s health, the expert noted that the conclusions here are based on rumors and speculation that he is a heavy smoker and has inherited diabetes.
This was not the first time the rumors on Kim’s alleged death have emerged, Asmolov said. In 2014, the North Korean leader had not been seen in public for a month and a half, fueling similar speculation. However, it turned out later that he either hurt his leg or had a cyst on his ankle.
The expert also voiced doubt over reports about Kim’s alleged self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic. First, North Korea has introduced harsh measures to prevent the coronavirus spread to the country and second, the authorities would definitely prefer not to hide this, he explained. "At the latest meeting of the political bureau, attended by Kim, they actively discussed the issues of anti-epidemic fight," Asmolov said.
On April 20, CNN reported citing a US official with direct knowledge that Washington was monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea's leader was "in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery." South Korea’s authorities said they had no data on Kim’s illness.
US President Donald Trump told a briefing at the White House on Thursday that the report on Kim’s falling ill was "incorrect.".