North Korean leader Kim Jong-un 'in grave danger' after surgery

There are fears for the immediate health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after his absence from a key public event.

The regime's leader is receiving treatment after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure early this month, a South Korean media report says.

North Korea marked the anniversary of the birthday of its founding father and Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, as a national holiday on April 15, but Kim was not seen in attendance.

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Trump meets Kim Jong-Un in DMZ
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Trump meets Kim Jong-Un in DMZ
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Susan Walsh/AP)

The US president briefly crossed the border as he renewed ties after previous meetings in Singapore and Vietnam.

President Donald Trump views North Korea from the Korean Demilitarized Zone from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas in South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019 with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A cap showing letters of Panmunjom and Demilitarized Zone, is placed at a souvenir shop at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to meet for a handshake at the Demilitarized Zone separating the North and South, a day after issuing the unprecedented invitation and expressing willingness to cross the border for what would be a history-making photo op. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
The US president briefly crossed the border as he renewed ties after previous meetings in Singapore and Vietnam.
Donald Trump y Kim Jong-un
The US president briefly crossed the border as he renewed ties after previous meetings in Singapore and Vietnam.
South Korean people watch a live broadcast on a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Seoul
El presidente Donald Trump estrecha la mano del líder norcoreano Kim Jong Un mientras ambos posan para los fotógrafos en la zona desmilitarizada entre ambas Coreas, el domingo 30 de junio de 2019. (Foto AP/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump made his first visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone on Sunday for a historic meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
President Donald Trump, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands following their news conference at the Blue House in Seoul, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
With grins and handshakes, President Donald Trump welcomed North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone Sunday, seeking to revive talks on the pariah nation's nuclear program in a bid for a legacy-defining accord. Trump then became the first American leader to step into North Korea.The brief photo-op, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations, marks a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders since talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. But it does little to erase significant doubts that remain about the future of the negotiations and the North's willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons.Trump's brief crossing into North Korean territory marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations, as personal taunts of "little rocket man" and threats to destroy the other have been ushered out by on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters."It's a great honour to be here," Trump said, "It is a great day for the world." Kim hailed the moment, saying of Trump, "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate unfortunate past and into a new future."Peering into North Korea from atop Observation Post Ouellette, Trump told reporters that there has been "tremendous" improvement since his first meeting with the North's leader in Singapore last year.Trump claimed the situation used to be marked by "tremendous danger" but "after our first summit, all of the danger went away."But North has yet to provide an accounting of its nuclear stockpile, let alone begin the process of dismantling its arsenal.The meeting at the truce city of Panmunjom also represented a striking acknowledgement by Trump of the authoritarian Kim's legitimacy over a nation with an abysmal human rights record.Trump's summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year, when they signed an agreement in Singapore to bring the North toward denuclearization.___Follow Miller on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@zekejmiller and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemireZeke Miller And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (centre L) meets with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (C) as US President Donald Trump (centre R) look on south of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
El presidente estadounidense Donald Trump y el líder norcoreano Kim Jong Un en la zona de demarcación entre las dos Coreas el 30 de junio de 2019 en Panmunjom
Support helicopters follow the Marine One helicopter carrying President Donald Trump to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) as they take off from Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea. It's their third meeting.
US President Donald Trump steps into the northern side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, as North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un looks on, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Daily NK, a speciality website run mostly by North Korean defectors, cited unidentified sources inside the isolated state saying Kim is recovering at a villa in the Mount Kumgang resort county of Hyangsan on the east coast after getting the procedure on April 12 at a hospital there.

However, CNN reported the leader's health could be much worse than is publicly known.

According to the outlet, the US is monitoring intelligence that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in grave danger after the surgery, citing a US official.

Reporting from inside North Korea is notoriously difficult, especially on matters concerning the country's leadership, given tight controls on information.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, declined to comment on the report to Reuters.

Kim's health deteriorating for months

Kim's health has deteriorated in recent months due to heavy smoking, obesity and overwork, the Daily NK report said.

"My understanding is that he had been struggling (with cardiovascular problems) since last August but it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu," a source was quoted as saying, referring to the country's sacred mountain.

Kim left for the hospital after presiding over a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's politburo on April 11, where Kim was publicly last seen, the report said.

Pyongyang fired multiple short-range missiles last week which Seoul officials said were also part of the Kim Il Sung birthday celebration.

Such military events would usually be observed by Kim, but there was no KCNA report on the test at all.

The North Korean leader disappeared from the public eye for more than a month in 2014, which at the time also prompted speculation about his health.

Kim's demise could lead to power struggle

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was asked about the report on Tuesday afternoon and said his office was waiting for the facts to become clearer.

"I can't really offer any comment on that because I can't provide any confirmation of it," he told reporters.

"So until these facts are more clearly determined, there is not really much I can offer."

It could be days, if not weeks, for the latest speculation to be cleared up, but reacting to the early news Californian congressman Ted Lieu said the eventual demise of the North Korean dictator could lead to an intense power struggle.

"North Korea does not have an official line of succession. If Kim Jong Un were to pass away, there would likely be an immediate and intense power struggle," he wrote on Twitter.

"History also teaches us that totalitarian states don't end if the leader dies. But it could provide opportunities for change."

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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