Pyongyang’s cadres worried about Kim Jong Un’s health

Daily NK source in Pyongyang reports that party officials scoff at the idea of Kim Yo Jong gaining power

North Korean government and party officials in Pyongyang are concerned that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be suffering from health problems, Daily NK has learned.

“High-level cadres along with donju [North Korea’s wealthy entrepreneurial class] who associate with them are finding [Kim’s disappearance] strange and are wondering if he has health problems,” a Daily NK source in Pyongyang told Daily NK yesterday.

“There’s now people thinking that [Kim’s disappearance] is due to a health problem and they are telling each other that they’ve heard he had received some kind of medical treatment,” the source added.


According to the source, many cadres are guessing that Kim’s disappearance may be due to a heart or joint-related ailment – specifically, they remember Kim reappearing after around 40 days back in 2014 with a walking stick.

The source confirmed that many of Pyongyang’s party officials, trade-related officials and their families are familiar with recent rumors of Kim’s death. They largely believe, however, that it is not likely Kim has died; rather they think he is receiving medical treatment somewhere.

The source also said that government cadres believe that if Kim had died, they would have received notice within two or three days. Given that far more many days have passed since Kim disappeared from the scene, however, they are questioning rumors that claim the North Korean leader has died.

“Officials really don’t know much about Kim’s health,” the source said. “But, some cadre family members and close friends are questioning why Kim’s doctors failed to properly take care of him [if his health was so poor].”

In short, while North Korean officials in the city avoid openly talking about speculation surrounding Kim’s health issues, they are focusing their discussions on the supposed “failure” of his doctors.


In regards to rumors spreading on social media about Kim Yo Jong taking over the reins from her brother, the source told Daily NK that Kim Yo Jong essentially has no chance of taking over the reins given that she is not considered a “real” successor to Kim Jong Un.

He even noted that if Kim Yo Jong gained power, this would be an “insult” to the “people” (in other words, the people would not accept her taking over power).

Most cadres, the source explained, with a possible exception of “people completely loyal” to the regime, want to live comfortably in an economically developed country – regardless of whether North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons or not.

He also added that most officials want the country run by the Cabinet and overseen by a capable person who has a “presence” and embraces “knowledge and virtue.” This would preclude having a “woman” or a “blockhead” who is part of the Kim family bloodline gain control, he explained.


Kim Jong Un’s failure to show up to the Apr. 15 commemoration for Kim Il Sung at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun has come as a “shock” and is “confusing” to many people in Pyongyang, the source further reported.

Daily NK’s source in Pyongyang pointed out that Kim’s failure to appear at the Apr. 15 commemoration was a wholly different issue than if he had failed to appear at Kim Jong Il’s birthday commemoration on Feb. 16.

He told Daily NK that officials in Pyongyang believe that it was “unheard of” that Kim failed to show up at the Apr. 15 commemoration.

“[Kim Jong Un] has criticized the ‘songgun [military-first] era’ and suggested that the Arduous March period destroyed the country, so it wouldn’t be that surprising if Kim had failed to show up at Kim Jong Il’s birthday commemoration [in February],” the source said.

“April 15, however, is different. Kim Jong Un has tried to portray himself as the Suryong [Kim Il Sung] as soon as he gained power and has even stressed that ‘we [the North Korean people] are the Suryong‘s disciples,'” he explained, adding, “It’s a shock and very confusing to people that Kim would simply send flowers and not actually show up for the [Apr. 15] commemoration.”

Kim has never missed participating in birthday commemorations of either his grandfather or father at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun since gaining power in 2012.

In February, Kim took part in the Feb. 16 Kim Jong Il birthday commemoration with a much reduced entourage – likely due to fears over COVID-19. Questions over the North Korean leader’s health began when Kim failed to participate in the birthday commemoration for Kim Il Sung on Apr. 15.

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