Speculation reignites over Kim Jong Un's health

Japan’s defence minister has reignited suspicions that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is suffering from poor health. Addressing media at the Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club on Thursday (local time), Taro Kono said concern for Kim’s health was one of several matters Japan had been discussing with other countries, according to NK News.

He speculated increasingly provocative military moves by North Korea in recent weeks may have been designed to “take away the attention of North Korean people away from Kim Jong Un’s health, or the bad harvest, or the bad economy”.

Kono also suggested Kim was rarely sighted in public because the hermit state’s leader was trying to not be infected by Covid-19, which he suspected had spread to the country despite no official cases being recorded.

“We suspect, number one, that Covid-19 is spreading around North Korea as well, and Kim Jong Un is trying to… not [be] infected by Covid-19. So sometimes he doesn’t come [out] in public,” Kono said.

“Number two, we have some suspicion about his health. Thirdly, the harvest last year in North Korea wasn’t quite good - bad, actually… The economy in North Korea is not doing well.”

There has been vast speculation over Kim’s condition in recent months after he was missing from the public eye for 20 days before making an appearance looking slightly different. Some even thought the dictator had been replaced by a body double due to him either dying or being incapacitated.

Kono’s commentary came after the North blew up a joint liaison office on its side of the border and declared an end to dialogue with the South. Political tensions between the rival Koreas have been rising over Pyongyang's objections to plans by defector-led groups in the South to send propaganda leaflets into the North. North Korea claims the moves violate an agreement between the two aimed at preventing military confrontation, and accused the defectors of insulting the dignity of the hermit state's supreme leadership. All these actions and statements have come from Kim's only sister,  Kim Yo Jong, who is seen as one of the possible successors of the supreme leader. 

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