North Korean leader Kim Jung Un in 'grave danger' after surgery
North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after surgery, CNN reports.
After missing the celebration of his grandfather's birthday on April 15, speculation was raised about Kim's health. He was seen four days prior at a government meeting.
Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea that focuses on North Korea, reports that Kim reportedly received a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12.
Kim received a cardiovascular procedure due to his "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 has improved, part of the medical team treating him returned to Pyongyang on April 19 and a few of them remained to oversee his recovery situation, according to the news site.
CNN reached out to The National Security Council and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, and the State Department for comment, but were unsuccessful. Gathering intelligence out of North Korea is notoriously difficult, one of the most challenging targets for US intelligence.
"North Korea tightly controls any information surrounding its leader, who is treated almost like a deity within the country. His absences from official state media often spark speculation and rumors about his health. North Korea has no free press and is often a black hole when it comes to the country's leadership. Analysts are heavily reliant on scanning state media dispatches and watching propaganda videos for any semblance of a clue," CNN reports.
Kim was last seen publicly in North Korean state media on April 11. North Korea's most important holiday is April 15, the anniversary of the birth of the country's founding father, Kim II Sung.
Experts are not certain what to make of Kim's unusual absence from any festivities celebrating his grandfather.
"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."
Kim Jong II's absence from a parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary in 2008 was followed by rumblings that he was in poor health. It was later revealed that he had a stroke and his health continued to decline, resulting in his death in 2011.
Kim Jung Un was absent from the public eye for over a month in 2014. When he returned, he sported a cane, and days later South Korean intelligence said that he had a cyst removed from his ankle.
This is a developing story.
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