North Korea defectors criticised over speculation Kim was ill or dead

SEOUL (Reuters) – A former senior North Korean diplomat apologised on Monday after saying chief Kim Jong Un was probably so ill he couldn’t stand, days earlier than he emerged in state media chain smoking and strolling briskly at an occasion attended by lots of of officers.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un attends the completion of a fertiliser plant, in a area north of the capital, Pyongyang, on this picture launched by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 2, 2020. KCNA/by way of REUTERS

Kim disappeared from state media for weeks, sparking a flurry of speculation about his well being and whereabouts, and fear about prospects for the nuclear-armed state within the occasion of an surprising succession.

But on Saturday, North Korean media printed pictures of Kim at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the inauguration of a fertiliser plant.

His re-emergence got here as a blow to the credibility of some high-profile defectors from the North who had speculated that Kim was affected by a grave sickness or may even be dead.

One of the defectors, Thae Yong Ho, was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain, the place he managed secret funds for Kim. Thae fled to South Korea in 2016 and was one in all a pair of defectors elected to parliament final month.

“I am aware that one of the reasons why many of you voted for me as a lawmaker is with the expectations of an accurate analysis and projections on North Korean issues,” Thae stated in an announcement. “I feel the blame and heavy responsibility.”

“Whatever the reasons, I apologise to everyone.”

The different distinguished defector elected to parliament, Ji Seong-ho, had stated in a media interview he was 99% sure that Kim had died after cardiovascular surgical procedure and an official announcement would come as quickly as Saturday.

Ji, who was invited to attend U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union tackle in 2018, couldn’t be reached on Monday.

Ji advised Reuters on Friday he had obtained details about Kim’s dying from a supply he couldn’t disclose. He added he ran for workplace to convey consideration to human rights abuse within the North.

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party criticised the pair for carelessness that it stated may do extra critical than simply misinforming the general public.

One get together member stated they need to be excluded from the intelligence and defence committees.

Daily NK, a South Korean information outlet run by North Korean defectors, reported in April that Kim was recovering from a cardiovascular process, sparking worldwide speculation about his well being.

Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Ju-min Park; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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