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S Korean officials call for caution amid reports that N Korean leader is ill

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https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2020/0427/1134973-north-korean-kim-jung-un/
Updated / Monday, 27 Apr 2020 16:07


South Korean officials are calling for caution amid reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be ill or is being isolated because of coronavirus concerns, emphasising that they have detected no unusual movements in North Korea.

At a closed door forum yesterday, South Korea's Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, who oversees engagement with the North, said the government has the intelligence capabilities to say with confidence that there was no indications of anything unusual.

Rumours and speculation over the North Korean leader's health began after he made no public appearance at a key state holiday on 15 April, and has since remained out of sight.

South Korea media last week reported that Mr Kim may have undergone cardiovascular surgery or was in isolation to avoid exposure to the new coronavirus.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul cast doubt on the report of surgery, arguing that the hospital mentioned did not have the capabilities for such an operation.

Still, Yoon Sang-hyun, chairman of the foreign and unification committee in South Korea's National Assembly, told a gathering of experts today that Kim Jong-un's absence from the public eye suggests "he has not been working as normally".

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