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26 Apr, 2020 02:29

North Korea’s Kim sends letter to construction workers amid reports his TRAIN was spotted at coastal resort

North Korea’s Kim sends letter to construction workers amid reports his TRAIN was spotted at coastal resort

Rumors about the North Korean leader’s whereabouts and health have swirled – but Kim Jong-un himself seems to be having none of it, praising workers of a major construction project, according to state media.

As the world watches the unfolding drama starring the North Korean leader with bated breath – with conflicting reports fueling speculation that he has either died or is in serious condition – Kim was reported by state newspaper Rodong Sinmun to have sent greetings to the staff working on the construction of Samjiyon city, one of the most ambitious development projects underway in the reclusive nation.

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The publication reported on Sunday that Kim “sent thanks” to workers involved in the rebuilding of what has been touted as an “ideal socialist village” by the North Korean leader. The city, which is reported to be the birthplace of Kim’s late father and former ruler, Kim Jong-il, is supposed to undergo a near-complete makeover, being transformed into a model city with new railway stations, power and telecommunications infrastructure and hundreds of brand-new buildings.

It is located at the foot of Mount Paektu – the ‘sacred mountain’ – which Kim has visited in recent years. In early December, the North Korean leader officially inaugurated the renovated city in a lavish ceremony.

The report of Kim’s greetings to the workers, as well as that of his official communication with foreign leaders, did little to quash rumors that he is on his deathbed – even though rampant speculation surrounding his health has since been downplayed by China and South Korea, and even US President Donald Trump who, not surprisingly, called CNN’s source-based reporting “fake news."

A new report that a train, which “probably” belongs to Kim, appeared to be parked at a coastal resort where the North Korean leader was reported to be recuperating after a “cardiovascular procedure” only added fuel to the fire. 

The report by North Korea research group 38 North cited satellite imagery, suggesting that the train has been at a railway station in Wonsan at least since April 21. Although the publication said that this does not provide many clues about Kim’s condition, mainstream media pundits wasted no time running with it.

“This doesn’t prove or disprove anything about his health. But for context, Kim usually prefers to fly to Wonsan. A train is a far more formal/solemn way to travel,” CNN’s Will Ripley said.

The speculation surrounding Kim’s health is also aided by Pyongyang’s customary silence on the matter, which has yet to refute the reports.

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