Speculations about North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un's health and location erupted after his unexplained absence since April 15, the day when the whole country celebrated his late grandfather Kim Il-sung's birthday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that they have caught no sight of Kim Jong Un and is monitoring the situation more broadly in North Korea. But a recent satellite image, which is the only source of information to track down the North Korean supreme leader, has revealed that the movements of the luxury boats often used by Kim Jong Un and his entourage near Wonsan indicate that he has been at the coastal resort.
Where is Kim Jong Un?
North Korea-monitoring website NK PRO reported on Tuesday, April 28, that commercial satellite imagery showed luxury boats used by Kim Jong Un had made some movements which suggest that he or his entourage may have visited Wonsan area. Last week, another satellite image showed that Kim Jong Un's personal train was parked at a station reserved for the use of Kim family at the villa in Wonsan.
As per South Korea and US officials, there is a possibility that Kim may be staying in Wonsan, probably to avoid exposure to the new Coronavirus. But the officials denied supporting the rumours of his death.
Kim's health and location
It should be noted that it is difficult to obtain any information about Kim's health or his location as North Korea always keeps everything behind the doors and the North Korea regime also controls local media.
A few days ago, the state-run media reported that Kim had presided over an official meeting on April 11. Later there were some reports of him sending letters and diplomatic messages. As per the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean ruler recently sent a personal letter to workers on a project in the city of Wonsan.
What is there in Wonsan?
Situated on the country's east coast, Wonsan has guest villas, a private beach, basketball court and private train station. As per reports an airstrip was bulldozed in 2019 to build a horse-riding track. There is a boathouse nearby that shelters Kim's Princess 95 luxury yacht, which was valued at around $7 million in 2013. As per the experts, it is one of his favourite vessels.
Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the U.S.-based Stimson Center, said that the ruler of North Korea is believed to have about 13 significant compounds around the country and Wonsan is one of the larger and better-appointed compounds. It is a useful area that allows the leader to easily travel to other areas along the coast and return quickly to Pyongyang.
This place is very important for the Kim dynasty as Kim Il-sung first landed at this place with Soviet troops to take over the control of North Korea. Some experts also claimed that it is Kim Jong Un's birthplace.
Kim had also conducted some military drills and missile tests in Wonsan after the lack of progress in denuclearisation talks with the US.