The US is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge. Another US official told CNN that the concerns about Kim’s health are credible but the severity is hard to assess.
Kim recently missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15, which raised speculation about his well-being. He was last seen four days before that, on April 11, at a government meeting.
Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea that focuses on North Korea, reports that Kim reportedly had a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12, due to “excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork,” according to the news site.
After assessing that Kim’s condition had improved, most of the medical team treating him returned to Pyongyang on April 19 and only part of them remained to oversee his recovery situation, according to the news site.
CNN is unable to independently confirm the report.
The situation remains murky as gathering intelligence out of North Korea is notoriously difficult — one of the most challenging targets for US intelligence. Experts are unsure of what to make of Kim’s absence from any festivities celebrating his grandfather. When North Korean leaders have not shown up to these important celebrations in the past, it has portended major developments. But it has also turned out to be nothing.