American news outlets are reporting North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un is in a coma following cardiac surgery.
CNN reported the Korean leader was in “grave danger” and NBC News said he was “brain dead” following the procedure.
“NBC News correspondent Katy Tur tweeted that two US officials said Kim was brain dead after slipping into a coma,” BizPac Review reports with a screenshot of the since-deleted tweet.
I’ve deleted that last tweet out of an abundance of caution. Waiting on more info. Apologies.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) April 21, 2020
Both CNN and NBC News later walked back definitive claims about Jong-Un’s health, saying they were waiting on more information.
According to CNN, concerns about Jong-Un’s health were initially raised after he missed a celebration of his grandfather’s birthday last week—North Korea’s most important holiday.
Politico reports: “Kim recently missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15, which raised speculation about his well-being. He had been seen four days before that at a government meeting.”
Jong-Un is 36 years old, stands 5′ 7″ tall and weighs close to 300 lbs, according to BizPac Review. These figures put him at risk for cardiac problems.
CNN reports Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for North Korea, said rumors around the Korean leader’s health are not new but would explain his recent absence.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Kim received the cardiovascular system procedure because of “excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork,” according to the news site, and is now receiving treatment in a villa in Hyangsan County following his procedure.
After assessing that Kim’s condition had improved, most of the medical team treating him returned to Pyongyang on April 19 and only part of them remained to oversee his recovery situation, according to the news site. CNN is unable to independently confirm the report.
A South Korean source told CNN Monday that the country’s top leaders are very much aware of reports about Kim’s health status but cannot independently verify details published by Daily NK. The source acknowledged that Kim’s issues related to weight and smoking are well known but made clear they are waiting for more information.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said the US was monitoring the situation.
“We’re monitoring these reports very closely,” O’Brien told Fox News on Tuesday. “As you know, North Korea is a very closed society,” he added.
Reuters reports authorities from both China and Japan are refusing to comment on the situation.
Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said his country are “regularly gathering and analyzing information about North Korea with great concern.”
“We will keep gathering and analyzing information regarding North Korea by collaborating with other countries such as the U.S.,” he added.