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Recent satellite photos indicate that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un might actually be at a luxury coastal resort on the Hermit Kingdom’s northeast coast — despite worldwide speculation about his health.
Since Kim, last seen on April 11, missed an April 15 commemoration that celebrated the 108th birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, unverified reports have emerged about a possible illness.
A key aide to the president of South Korea insisted on Sunday that Kim, who is believed to be 36, was “alive and well.”
“He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13,” Chung-in Moon, foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told Fox News. “No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
This April 21 satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies and annotated by 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, shows an overview of Wonsan complex in Wonsan, North Korea.
(Maxar Technologies via AP)
The Wonsan compound features guest villas, a private beach, basketball court, a covered yacht berth, shooting range and private train station.
The North Korean dictator is believed to have a multimillion-dollar yacht. It was spotted in the background of photos released by state media in 2013.
Kim Jong-un is seen inspecting the fishery station at Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast in thie 2013 photo, with a luxury yacht seen in the background.
(KCNA via Reuters)
The NK News website at the time said the yacht was the 95-foot Princess 95MY. The vessel, which has four double berths, three with en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, and a dining table large enough to seat eight, was valued around $7 million in 2013, the South China Morning Post reported.
News about the leisure boats came after satellite photos released Saturday by 38 North, a Washington-based website specializing in North Korea studies, showed increased activity in the resort town of Wonsan in April.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s train has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing his Wonsan compound since at least April 21, the website 38 North said Saturday.
(Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North, Pleiades©CNES 2020, Distribution Airbus DS via AP)
Kim’s train has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing the Wonsan compound since at least April 21, 38 North said Saturday, citing an analysis of recent satellite photos of the area.
Kim sought to develop tourism in the Wonsan area to beef up the country’s economy, crippled under international sanctions. It is one of Kim’s key pet construction projects. Last year, an airstrip was bulldozed at the dictator’s luxury complex to build a horse riding track.
In the images released on Saturday, a lengthy leisure boat is seen jutting into the water near Wonsan.
This April 15 satellite image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and annotated by 38 North shows overview of Wonsan complex in Wonsan, North Korea. Recent satellite photos show a train probably belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been spotted.
(Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North, PleiadesÂ©CNES 2020, Distribution Airbus DS via AP)
Similar floating platforms and a 165-foot-long leisure boat have previously been spotted on satellite photos, according to Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s Beijing bureau chief.
Some experts believe that Wonsan may actually be Kim’s birthplace due to the early years he spent at his family’s palace there, according to Reuters.
Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at Stimson Center, told the news agency that Kim treats Wonsan in the same way President Trump regards Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
“It’s one of his favorite houses,” Madden told Reuters.
Madden said that Kim is believed to have about 13 compounds, but likes Wonsan because the dictator can easily travel from there to other areas along the coast, or quickly return to Pyongyang in his private train.
Kim’s health is of crucial importance because of worries that a serious illness or death could cause instability in the impoverished, nuclear-armed country.
North Korea exerts extremely tight control over information about its leadership, making it virtually impossible for outsiders to know what’s going on at senior levels.
An intelligence source told Fox News Monday there have been suspicions that Kim has been unwell since April 15.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. mission of denuclearization in North Korea will remain the same no matter who leads the regime
In this April 11 file photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang.
(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
“I don’t have anything to add to the status of Chairman Kim,” Pompeo told reporters Wednesday while noting that “we did have the opportunity to interact with a number of North Korean officials,” including Kim’s sister and “others.”
“Our mission remains the same regardless of leadership,” Pompeo continued, noting that the U.S. was working toward “full denuclearization” on the Korean peninsula.
Fox News’ Greg Palkot, Brooke Singman, Nick Kalman, and Gillian Turner contributed to this report.