Beijing, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- Taiwan’s intelligence chief affirmed Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been unwell.
Chiu Kuo-cheng, who heads the National Security Bureau (NSB), revealed the status of Kim’s health in response to a question by a ruling party lawmaker during an appearance before parliament, according to Taiwanese official agency CNA reported.
When the representative asked whether the North Korean leader was still alive, Chiu smiled and refrained from answering.
Opposition members also raised questions on the issue, especially regarding a possible power vacuum in North Korea in case of Kim’s death.
Chiu responded to these apprehensions, assuring them that Taiwanese intelligence was prepared for that eventuality.
The retired general, who has also served as Vice Minister of National Defense for Armaments and the armed forces’ Chief of the General Staff, said the NSB has information on the situation in North Korea but could not speak much about it publicly without endangering its sources.
According to CNA, Chiu recalled that in the event of a military conflict related to North Korea, Taiwan would also fall in the so-called area of influence and not just neighboring countries such as Japan or South Korea.
In recent days, reports have been circulating about Kim suffering from serious health problems following heart surgery.
However, South Korean authorities have brushed it off as fake news.
The North Korean propaganda machinery has not reported on Kim’s field activities since Apr. 12, or published any of his recent pictures.
Moreover, he has also remained absent from several major events, including the celebrations during the country’s main national holiday on April 15, although it published messages from the leader.
In this context, especially amid the usual opacity of the North Korean regime, different media outlets have published reports – always citing anonymous sources – speculating on the health of Kim following a supposed heart operation.
Seoul has avoided revealing Kim’s current location, although satellite images have located his train in the eastern coastal town of Wonsan.
Last week, several South Korean officials, speaking under anonymity, had claimed that the North Korean leader was in Wonsan.
South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said Kim’s notable absences from public life could be a part of measures to scale down big events and gatherings in the country to combat the novel coronavirus infections.
Although Pyongyang has not reported any Covid-19 cases in its territory, South Korean authorities have reported that its northern neighbor has been bolstering its medical and health capacities.
Meanwhile, China-North Korea’s traditional ally – has been silent on the issue.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokespeople have said they did not have any information to offer in this regard. EFE-EPA