Speculation is swirling around the health condition of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After undergoing heart surgery earlier this month he has been noticeably absent from key events, including an event marking the anniversary of the birthday of North Korea’s founding father and Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15.

President Trump was asked during a daily press briefing about the reports that Kim was “gravely ill,” and he responded: “Well, these are reports that came out, and we don’t know. We don’t know. I’ve had a very good relationship with him. All I wanted, you know, I can only say this. I wish him well, because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say, that the news is saying, that’s a very serious condition. … I’ve said it many times. If somebody else were in this position, we would have been right now at war with North Korea. And we are not at war. We are nowhere close to war with North Korea. I just have to say to Kim Jong Un, I wish him very good luck.” 

According to reports from Daily NK citing an anonymous source, Kim underwent surgery on April 12 at Hyangsan Hospital near Mount Myohyang, in North Pyongan Province, which is used exclusively for Kim and his family.

Daily NK, a specialty site that is run mostly by North Korean defectors, has reported Kim’s health has worsened in recent months due to heavy smoking, obesity, and overwork.

According to Nine News, an official in the United States with direct knowledge told CNN that intelligence authorities were tracking reports of his condition.

Reports have suggested that Kim, 36 and one of the youngest world leaders, is in a grave condition.

Given the tight controls the communist country has on information, especially relating to its leader, any reports of Kim’s condition will be hard to confirm.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House, the executive office and official residence of the Republic of Korea’s head of state, cannot confirm that Kim may be ill, “We have no information to confirm regarding rumors about Chairman Kim Jong Un’s health issue that have been reported by some media outlets. Also, no unusual developments have been detected inside North Korea,” Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok said in the statement made on Tuesday, April 21.

President Donald Trump and Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un speak to reporters on June 30, 2019, as the two leaders meet in Freedom House at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. (Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo)

CNN has cited one official U.S. source as saying Kim is in grave danger following his recent surgery, while another official source claims the severity of his condition is hard to assess.

“There have been a number of recent rumors about Kim’s health (smoking, heart, and brain). If Kim is hospitalized, it would explain why he wasn’t present on the important April 15th celebrations,” said Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea.

“But, over the years, there have been a number of false health rumors about Kim Jong Un or his father. We’ll have to wait and see,” according to CNN.

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