The South Korean government pushed back on reports raising questions about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
CNN reported last week that US intelligence suggested that Kim was in “grave danger” after undergoing surgery.
The report came after Kim missed the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday earlier this month.
Kim has not been seen publicly since around April 11, when he attended a government meeting.
"We're monitoring these reports very closely," said National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. "As you know, North Korea is a very closed society.”
South Korean media reported heart problems:
The South Korean news outlet Daily NK reported that Kim underwent a procedure on his cardiovascular system because of “excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork.”
"There have been a number of recent rumors about Kim's health (smoking, heart, and brain). If Kim is hospitalized, it would explain why he wasn't present on the important April 15th celebrations," former CIA North Korea chief Bruce Klinger told CNN. "But, over the years, there have been a number of false health rumors about Kim Jong-un or his father. We'll have to wait and see."
South Korea disputes report:
Moon Chung-in, South Korea’s top foreign policy adviser, told CNN that the reports were untrue.
"Our government position is firm," Moon said. "Kim Jong Un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected."
But in the US, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he would be surprised if the rumors were untrue.
"I'll be shocked if he's not dead or in some incapacitated state because you don't let rumors like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society, which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea," Graham told Fox News. "So I pretty well believe he is dead or incapacitated, and I hope that the long-suffering North Korean people will get some relief if he is dead.”