In an apparent effort to prove that Kim Jon Un is not dead, North Korean state media reported Monday that the dictator recently sent a thank-you letter to the builders of his tourist resort in Wonsan.
The country’s main news outlet, the Rodong Sinmun, claimed Monday that Kim sent a message of appreciation to workers at the seaside resort, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has sent his appreciation to the workers who devoted themselves to building the Wonsan-Kalma tourist zone,” Rodong Sinmun allegedly reported. Yonhap added that the Korean Central Broadcasting Station carried similar news.
South Korea believes that Kim has been residing at the Wonsan report since April 13.
What’s the background?
The report comes amid intensifying speculation about the health of Kim Jong Un, who has not been seen in public since April 11. His unusual absence from a key ceremony celebrating the 108th birth anniversary of the country’s first ruler, Kim Il Sung, was noted in particular.
Then last week, unverified reports began circulating that Un was in “grave danger” following surgery. Over the weekend, Japanese media reported that Kim indeed underwent a surgery that left him in a “vegetative state.”
The Trump administration has not yet confirmed whether or not they believe Kim to be dead, but have reportedly been informed that if he’s alive, his health is poor. Officials have been looking into who would be in the line of succession should the ruler be deceased.
In a Fox News interview Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that he would “be shocked if [Kim is] not dead or in some incapacitated state.”
The South Korean government has pushed back against reports that the North’s ruler is dead, saying last Tuesday that Kim appeared to be handling affairs as usual. South Korean officials added that they have no information to confirm the rumors about Kim’s health.
Satellite images posted by the U.S. monitoring website 38 North appear to show Kim’s “special train” parked in the Wonsan compound since at least April 21.
“The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,” the report said.