North Korean state media on Monday published a letter from the country’s leader Kim Jong Un to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating him on Freedom Day.
The message was dated April 27, 2020, KCNA reported, as speculation mounted over Kim’s health after he missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15.
In the letter addressed to Ramaphosa, the North Korean leader expressed his certainty that the two nations’ friendship would unendingly expand and develop, in addition to referencing Freedom Day, a public holiday celebrated in South Africa on Monday.
On Sunday, South Korean presidential adviser Moon Chung-in said that the North Korean leader was ‘alive and well’ despite speculation about his wellbeing. The adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Kim had been staying in the Wonsan area on the country’s east coast since April 13, adding: ‘No suspicious movements have so far been detected.’
A website specializing in North Korean affairs published satellite images on Saturday that researchers said showed a train, ‘probably belonging to Kim Jong Un,’ which had been parked at a railway station serving Kim’s luxurious Wonsan compound on the country’s eastern coast since at least April 21.
According to 38 North, Kim’s luxurious Wonsan complex includes leisure facilities such as nine large guesthouses, a recreation center, a protected port, a shooting range, a recreation building, a covered dock, and a small runway converted in 2019 into a horse-riding track.
Last week, a US official with direct knowledge said that the US was monitoring intelligence suggesting that Kim was in grave danger after surgery. Another US official told CNN on Monday that the concerns about Kim’s health were credible, but the severity was hard to assess.
It followed a report by Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea that focuses on North Korea, that Kim reportedly received a cardiovascular procedure because of ‘excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork.’ The news outlet said the leader was receiving treatment in a villa in Hyangsan County, north of Pyongyang.
After assessing that Kim’s condition had improved, most of the medical team treating him returned to Pyongyang on April 19 while some of them remained to oversee his recovery, according to the news site.
This is the fourth notice in the country’s state media of routine state duties carried out by Kim since April 12 when reports first surfaced that Kim may be unwell.