The Chinese delegation left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday includes doctors and CCP officials, according to three people familiar with the situation told Reuters. The nature of China’s delegation was not announced and Beijing has so far refused to comment. On Monday, speculation spread the North Korean leader was in ill health after undergoing heart surgery on April 12 after unconfirmed reports emerged – which were swiftly denied.
His last public appearance was on April 11, at a politburo meeting.
These reports were subsequently discounted by US intelligence, who reported they had no reason to think that Kim had suffered any kind of serious illness.
Similarly, at the time, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cited a government official who said there was nothing unusual coming from North Korea that could suggest Kim was ill.
But, in an escalation of the situation, Hong Kong Satellite Television reported on Friday that Kim was dead, though there has been no confirmation from international sources at this point.
A senior Pentagon official said: “While the US continues to monitor reports surrounding the health of the North Korean Supreme Leader, at this time, there is no confirmation from official channels that Kim Jong-un is deceased.
“North Korean military readiness remains within historical norms and there is no further evidence to suggest a significant change in defensive posturing or national level leadership changes.”
There is a significant threat to world security if Kim Jong-Un were to die.
His death could force the US and South Korea into military action which would “make Afghanistan and Iraq pale in comparison”, experts warn.
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They fear the power void left behind by the despot’s demise may erupt into an ugly civil war involving rival military units within the mighty North Korean army.
Regional observers say any chaos sparked in the wake of Kim’s death could then lead to an intervention by the South and it’s powerful ally America.
On Tuesday it was claimed it was not known if Kim was “dead or alive” following reports he had undergone secret heart surgery.
One senior White House reporter said she had been told Trump officials were already looking into who would be in line for succession.
However, both South Korea and China later said they believed reports he was in “grave danger” were unfounded.
The fact that Kim, believed to be 36, has disappeared from coverage in North Korean state media is not unusual.
He has disappeared before, in 2014, he vanished for more than a month and North Korean state TV later showed him walking with a limp.
Speculation about his health has been fanned by his heavy smoking, apparent weight gain since taking power and family history of cardiovascular problems.
When Kim Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, suffered a stroke in 2008, South Korean media reported at the time that Chinese doctors were involved in his treatment along with French physicians.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping made the first state visit in 14 years by a Chinese leader to North Korea, an impoverished state that depends on Beijing for economic and diplomatic support.
China is North Korea’s chief ally and the economic lifeline for a country hard-hit by UN sanctions and has a keen interest in the stability of the country with which it shares a long, porous border.
Kim is a third-generation hereditary leader who came to power after his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011 from a heart attack.
Kim Jong-Un has visited China four times since 2018.
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