Reports from late Monday and early Tuesday indicate that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is in perilous condition after a heart surgery, and U.S. officials are unsure if the despot is dead or alive.
Jon Passantino from CNN tweeted:
CNN breaking: The US is monitoring intelligence that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is in grave danger after a surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge
Jennifer Jacobs, senior White House reporter for Bloomberg News, tweeted:
NEW: Trump admin received information that Kim Jong Un had heart surgery last week and if he's alive, his health is poor, I'm told. KJU hasn't been seen at key events in recent days. It's unclear to US officials if he's dead or alive. (CNN 1st reported his condition's grave.)
Trump administration officials are looking into who would be in the line of succession if Kim Jong Un dies or is already dead, I'm told.
CNN reported early Tuesday:
The US is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge.
A second source familiar with the intelligence told CNN that the US has been closely monitoring reports on Kim's health.
Kim recently missed the celebration of his grandfather's birthday on April 15, which raised speculation about his well-being. He had been seen four days before that at a government meeting.
Another US official told CNN Monday that the concerns about Kim's health are credible but the severity is hard to assess.
Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea that focuses on North Korea, reports that Kim reportedly received a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12.
Kim received the cardiovascular system procedure because of "excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork," according to the news site, and is now receiving treatment in a villa in Hyangsan County following his procedure. . . .
In the meantime, US officials have been reaching out to North Korean experts -- particularly those who have studied the Kim regime -- to talk about contingency planning, a third source familiar with the communications told CNN.
The report stressed the difficulty in gathering concrete intelligence out of the totalitarian hermit kingdom, calling it "one of the most challenging targets for US intelligence."