Reuters reports that China has dispatched a team, consisting partly of medical experts, to North Korea to advise on North Korean President Kim Jong Un’s health situation. This according to three people close to the situation who chose to remain anonymous due to its sensitive nature.
Two of those sources report that the team is led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, the department charged with, among other things, managing North Korean affairs.
Earlier this week, Daily NK, a South Korean website, cited one unnamed source in a report that Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12.
Both the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department and South Korean officials have denied these reports, claiming that none of their intelligence suggests that the North Korea leader is in the midst of a health crisis.
In the United States, President Donald Trump seemingly danced around the question of Kim’s health, stating during his briefing on Thursday that “I’m hearing they used old documents … I hear the report was an incorrect report,” “I think it was a fake report.”
Still, speculation is rife that the North Korean leader’s health is in dire straits, leading to reports over who might take over from Kim if he happens to die. The only other member of the Kim family is Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister and his de facto chief of staff.
Kim Jong Un has led North Korea ever since his father, Kim Jong Il, passed away in 2011.
The country has remained notoriously private regarding its affairs for decades. What is largely known about North Korea is that the majority of its population lives in dire poverty and that its leaders have actively sought to develop nuclear weapons for more than a decade.