05/06/2020, 09.57
NORTH KOREA
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Seoul Intelligence: Kim is fine. The regime is stable

by Kim Sang-wook

The North Korean leader did not undergo any heart surgery. In recent weeks, rumors circulated about his poor health or even death. The regime is grappling with the global pandemic. US Study Center: Pyongyang is building new missile site.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - South Korean secret services deny that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is ill or has undergone heart surgery. The same sources affirm that Kim is still leading the regime, as stated April 3 by the Office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

In recent weeks, rumors circulated about his poor health or even the death. Kim reappeared on May 1 while taking part in the inauguration of a fertilizer factory in Sunchon, north of the capital. He had not appeared in public since April 11, when he chaired a high-level meeting of the Workers' Party, which has been governing North Korea since the end of World War II.

Seoul’s intelligence service, having spoken to a group of national deputies, states Kim reduced his public appearances to focus on domestic problems, particularly the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pyongyang claims that there is no case of infection in the country: South Korean intelligence officers believe otherwise. The regime closed the border with China in January, when the disease had already spread to many Chinese provinces; until then the exchanges along the border had been very intense, multiplying the chances of contagion.

According to South Korean services, the blockade of connections with the Chinese neighbor has led to a worsening of the economic situation in North Korea, with food prices rising significantly.

Despite this, the same sources say, the situation remains stable in the North, from where there are no signs of a resumption in nuclear activities. This is being contested by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that the regime is completing a new missile site near the capital. The complex is visible from satellite images and US analysts say it can host intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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