North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “alive and well,” according to an aide to the president of neighboring South Korea.
Rumors have swirled regarding Kim’s health after he missed the celebration of his late grandfather’s 108th birthday. The event commemorates the birthday of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and is one of the most important dates in the country’s calendar.
Kim hadn’t missed the April 15 event since he assumed power in 2011 following his father Kim Jong Il’s death, according to The Associated Press. He was still nowhere to be seen on Saturday as his country commemorated Military Foundation Day.
While North Korea’s state media has remained silent about Kim’s health and whereabouts, some media outlets have reported that he was recovering from surgery.
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It comes as 38 North, a website that specializes in news about North Korea, reported that satellite images show a train that likely belongs to Kim has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing his Wonsan compound since at least April 21.
Kim hasn’t been seen in public since April 11, but South Korean officials have questioned reports about the North Korean leader’s health, saying that no unusual activity has been detected in the North, according to Reuters.
U.S. intelligence officials have also said they see no sign of unusual military activity that would suggest something was amiss.
Daily NK, a Seoul-based website, reported on Monday that Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12, citing an unnamed source in North Korea. The outlet reported that Kim needed the procedure due to “excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork” and that he was now being treated in a villa in Hyangsan County.
A day later, CNN reported that the U.S. is monitoring intelligence that Kim is “in grave danger” after undergoing surgery, citing a U.S. official. Another U.S. official told the outlet that reports about Kim’s health are credible, but said the severity is difficult to ascertain since the country is so secretive.
President Donald Trump later dismissed the reports, but declined to confirm whether or not he had been in touch with officials in North Korea about Kim’s health.
“I think the report was incorrect,” Trump said at a White House briefing on Thursday, adding that he had heard it was based on “old documents.”
He added: “We have a good relationship with North Korea—as good as you can have. I mean, we have a good relationship with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un, and I hope he’s okay. And somebody would say, “Oh, that’s terrible.” No, it’s not terrible. I hope he’s okay.”