At a time when social media users are continuously asking where is Kim Jong Un and whether he is dead of not, North Korean state newspaper revealed that the supreme leader has sent a thank you message to builders working on a tourism project at a seaside resort. While rumours about his death are dominating the online platforms, it is believed that the state-run media is trying to quash all these reports.
The rumours over Kim's health swirled after reports said the North Korean leader underwent heart surgery earlier in the month. The Vice Director of Hong King Satellite TV Shijian Xingzou claimed that a "very solid" source revealed that the North Korean supreme leader was dead.
North Korean media reporting on Kim Jong Un
As per the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un has sent a personal letter to workers on a project in the city of Wonsan, where a train believed to belong to the leader was spotted in satellite images. But still it is unclear whether the letter was actually sent by Kim or not.
The report comes after the South Korea foreign policy adviser Chung-in Moon claimed that the leader of North Korea was "alive and well" and had been living in Wonsan since April 13. He mentioned that his government's position is that Kim is not dead and added that "No suspicious movements have so far been detected."
#KIMJONGUNDEAD starts tending on Twitter
The trending hashtags related to North Korea and its leaders started emerging on twitter soon after Hong Kong TV director Shijian Xingzou, who has 15 million followers on Weibo, claimed that Kim Jong Un is dead. Later, a Japanese media outlet claimed that the ruler of North Korea was in a "vegetative state" after he underwent heart surgery earlier in the month.
But Kim had not been seen in public since April 11 when he led a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party committee of policymakers. The speculations about his health started to emerge on several posts after he missed his late grandfather Kim Il-sung's birthday celebration on April 15.
It should be mentioned that the state-run media doesn't publish everything that happens in the country. While explaining one of the incidents Jean H Lee, Director of Korea Program, Wilson Centre and former AP Pyongyang Bureau chief, said that in September 2008 when Pyongyang was expecting to see Kim Jong Un's father and then-leader Kim Jong-il at the major military parade to celebrate the country's founding, he was not there. She said, "we finally got intel sources in Washington DC to confirm that they believed that Kim Jong-il has suffered a stroke several weeks earlier in August and was in a coma" but the state media reported nothing.
Kim Jong Un has passed away: Fake news or a cover-up?
When unconfirmed reports about Kim Jong Un's death appeared online after China sent doctors to North Korea to help determine his current health status, Korean Peninsula expert and chairman of the board of The World and Northeast Asia Peace Forum Jang Sung Min expressed that he believes the news may not be fake. He said:
Kim Jong Un's health condition is very serious, and just this morning, the North Korean administration came to the conclusion that it will be impossible for him to recover.
Later, a North Korean defector turned journalist Joo Sung-ha said in a Facebook post, reported by New York Times, that it is reasonable to believe that Kim Jong Un had health problems. He also mentioned that "the health of the Kim family is the secret among secrets."
Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who also defected, said it was hard to believe any reliable information about the North Korean leader had been leaked by his most trusted aides. While describing his experience in the country, he said no one was aware of Kim Jong-il's death until 2011 after they gathered in an auditorium and saw an announcer dressed in black.
Meanwhile, the 250-meter-long train reportedly belonging to Kim family was detected near his Wonsan holiday complex on satellite images. The train was parked at a station reserved for Kim and his family members. While the current status of the dictator remains unknown, the position of the train suggests he has visited the resort. As per South Korean broadcaster SBS, Kim's private jet, which is frequently used for trips to Wonsan, was located on the Pyongyang runway.
Well, it's a closed society, I don't know anything directly. But I'd be shocked if he's not dead or in some incapacitated state because you don't let rumours like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society, which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea. So I pretty well believe he is dead or incapacitated.