President Trump said that a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “in great danger” after undergoing surgery was “fake news” from CNN.
At a news conference on Thursday, Trump responded to a CNN report earlier this week claiming Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was ill.
He called CNN’s report “incorrect” and said it may have referred to old documents.
“I think the report was made by a network that was incorrect. I hear they used old documents. But that’s what I hear. I hear the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report, “he said.
“It was a fake report from CNN.”
President Trump (pictured) said on Thursday that a report claiming Kim Jong-un is ill was “false.”
Trump admitted he did not “want to say” whether he had spoken to officials in Pyongyang, but wished Kim Jong-un the best.
“We have a good relationship with North Korea, as best you can have,” Trump said.
“I mean, we have a good relationship with North Korea. I’m in a good relationship with Kim Jong-un and I hope he’s okay and someone would say ‘Oh that’s awful’. No, it’s not terrible, I hope he’s okay. ‘
When a reporter tried to push Trump further, he became annoyed and refused to answer any follow-up questions.
Pictured: President Donald Trump (left) and Kim Jong-un (right) standing on North Korean soil as they walk to South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone
CNN first reported that Kim Jong-un was in “ great danger ” earlier this week after reportedly undergoing surgery
“No, that’s enough. The problem is you don’t write the truth, so as far as I’m concerned, I want to go to the next person, ”he snapped.
“No, not CNN please. I said, CNN is fake news, don’t talk to me, ”he added.
South Korean officials have since spoken out, saying that Kim Jong-un was not seriously ill.
The fear was sparked after CNN quoted an unnamed US official who said Washington was guarding intelligence that Kim was in a critical condition.
Kim Jong-un was last seen at a government meeting on April 11 and was mysteriously absent from the celebration of his late grandfather Kim Il-Sung’s birthday on April 15.
It’s unclear what would happen if fears that Kim turned out to be “incapacitated or worse,” but his sister Kim Yo-jong is among the senior politicians who could be queuing to take control.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said that Kim Yo-jong is already exercising significant influence within the government.
However, a top party leader is more likely to take over from Kim.
Since two of the three members of the Politburo Standing Committee are older, the third member, chairman of the Organization and Guidance Department Choe Ryong Hae, is considered a likely candidate, NKNews reports.
If Kim Jong-un (left) fell ill, his sister Kim Yo-jong (right) could queue to take over North Korea
The North has imposed even stricter restrictions than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic – although it claims to have no cases.
Daily NK, an outlet mainly operated by North Korean defectors, said Kim had undergone a cardiovascular procedure and recovered in a villa in North Phyongan province.
“I understand that he had been struggling (with cardiovascular problems) since last August, but that it deteriorated after repeated visits to Mount Paektu,” said a source, referring to the country’s sacred mountain.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said, “We have no information to confirm about rumors of President Kim Jong-un’s health problem reported by some media outlets.
“Nor have any unusual developments been observed in North Korea.”
The Blue House later said that Kim was believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang with some of his closest confidants.
Neither Kim Jong-Un nor his sister Kim Yo Jong attended the celebration of their grandfather’s birth at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. Kim Yo Jong (left) is ahead of her brother Kim Jong-Un (right) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (center) in Pyongyang in 2018
It said that Kim was normally involved in state affairs and that there were no unusual movements or emergency responses from the Northern party, the military or the cabinet.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was aware of reports of Kim’s health, but said it doesn’t know the source without saying if it has any information about the situation.
Another US official, speaking to the Associated Press, said the White House was aware of Kim’s health concerns before the latest reports surfaced Monday night.
The official said the US had information that Kim may have had surgery and complications may have made him “incapacitated or worse.”
Pictured: President Donald Trump (right) meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) on Sentosa Island, Singapore, in 2019
But they emphasized that the US had nothing to confirm whether the surgery had taken place or if complications had arisen.
“We just don’t know,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The White House and the State Department had no comments.
The dictator’s health concerns come after reports that the North Korean authorities had admitted in public lectures that the corona virus had spread in the country, contradicting the regime’s claims that there were no cases.
There was no indication that Kim had contracted the fatal respiratory illness, also known as COVID-19.