News World Asia Cardiovascular surgery for North Korean leader: Reports
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Cardiovascular surgery for North Korean leader: Reports

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North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is gravely ill after cardiovascular surgery earlier in April, according to various media reports.

Mr Kim is being treated after having a cardiovascular procedure earlier in April, a South Korean media report said on Tuesday, amid speculation over the leader’s health after his absence from a key anniversary event. It denied he was gravely ill.

He was last seen on April 11 at a government meeting. Four days later, he skipped national celebrations for grandfather’s birthday on April 15.

Daily NK, a website run mostly by North Korean defectors, cited unidentified sources inside the country who said the 36-year-old leader was recovering at a villa at a resort on the east coast. They said Mr Kim had his surgery at a hospital there on April 12.

Reporting from inside North Korea is notoriously difficult, especially on matters concerning the country’s leadership, given tight controls on information.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, declined to comment on the report.

CNN, which had reported that Mr Kim was in grave danger, said the North Korean National Security Council and Office of the Director of National Intelligence had declined to comment. CNN has also sought comment from the CIA and the US State Department.

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea, told CNN that there had been rumours about Mr Kim’s health.

“Over the years, there have been a number of false health rumours about Kim Jong-un or his father. We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

Daily NK said Mr Kim’s health had deteriorated in recent months due to heavy smoking, obesity and overwork.

“My understanding is that he had been struggling [with cardiovascular problems] since last August but it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu,” a source was quoted as saying, referring to the country’s sacred mountain.

Mr Kim left for the hospital after presiding over a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s politburo on April 11.

Pyongyang fired multiple short-range missiles last week. Seoul officials said they were part of the Kim Il-Sung birthday celebrations.

Such military events would usually be observed by Mr Kim, but there was no KCNA report on the test at all.

-with AAP