South Korea has exchanged fire across the border with North Korean troops, officials in Seoul said early on Sunday.
According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korean troops fired several bullets at a guard post inside the fortified border between the countries.
South Korea exchanged fire across the border (pictured) with North Korean troops[/caption]
South Korea fired two rounds in response, the officials said, with no casualties reported.
Sunday’s exchange came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was spotted for the first time in public in 20 days, amid speculation about his health.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a summit dinner in April 2018[/caption]
On Saturday, President Donald Trump is “glad to see” Kim Jong-un is doing “well” after the despot vanished for 20 days, leading to rumors of his death.
Trump appeared to confirm that the 36-year-old North Korean leader is alive just one day after photos of Kim at a ribbon cutting ceremony were publicized.
President Donald Trump is ‘glad to see’ Kim Jong-un is doing ‘well’[/caption]
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump prepare to shake hands on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea[/caption]
In a Saturday evening tweet, Trump wrote: “I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!”
Along with his tweet were photos of Kim at a fertilizer factory opening on May 1, according to North Korean media.
The pictures marked the despot’s first public outing in 20 days amid rumors he had died.
Kim vanished from public life nearly three weeks ago, in early April, sparking reports he had an operation that went wrong or was injured in military missile tests.
Pictures on state media claimed to show the dictator attending the completion ceremony of Suncheon Fertilizer Plant.
This was apparently his first outing in 20 days[/caption]
Speculation over the welfare of the North Korean leader has been mounting for days but the rogue state has not broken its silence.
Concern over his health began when he failed to appear at an important celebration on April 15, to mark the birthday of Kim Il-sung, his grandfather and the founder of the country.
And a recent viral image that supposedly showed Kim Jong-un dead in a glass coffin set off the rumors again.
The image – likely a doctored photo from his father’s 2011 funeral – appears to show Kim lying in state beneath a red blanket with his head on a pillow.
Photos also emerged of people watching the alleged appearance on a TV[/caption]
Speculation over the welfare of the North Korean leader has been mounting for days but the rogue state has not broken its silence[/caption]
There were also claims that he may have been seriously injured during one of his military’s controversial missile tests.
But in an effort to contradict the whispers of his death a state-run newspaper reported Kim sent a personal letter to builders working on a tourism project in Wonsan.
The rumors surrounding his health:
- Initial reports from South Korea claimed Kim was in a vegetative state after suffering a heart attack
- However a North Korean defector claims the tyrant was in fact injured during a missile test
- South Korea later insisted he is in fact ‘alive and well’
- In the West a top US Senator claimed Kim was ‘likely dead or incapacitated’
- But President Trump dismissed dismissed the report calling it ‘fake news’
- Rumors previously ran wild when Kim disappeared for a month in 2014 – reportedly having suffered a bout of gout
Continuing the rumors, a Chinese journalist Shijian Xingzou said a “very solid source” told her the North Korean leader had died.
Separately, a Japanese media outlet claimed Kim was in a “vegetative state” after undergoing heart surgery.
While Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector turned South Korean politician, said he had been told Kim died last week and the secretive country will reveal his passing in the coming days.
He told Yonhap News Agency: “I’ve wondered how long he could have endured after cardiovascular surgery. I’ve been informed that Kim died last weekend.
“It is not 100 per cent certain, but I can say the possibility is 99 per cent. North Korea is believed to be grappling with a complicated succession issue.”
The pictures of Kim came as:
- Kim Jong-un’s ‘pleasure train’ is revealed
- How Kim’s formidable uncle could seize power
- Video claiming Kim Jong-un dropped dead goes viral
Last week, China reportedly sent medical experts to North Korea to check on the leader’s health.
However South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy advisor Chung-in Moon has said they believe Kim has been staying in Wonsan since April 13 – with “no suspicious movements”.
South Korea’s minister for North Korean affairs said he believed Kim has not been seen because he is dodging the coronavirus.
Kim Yeon-chul said at a parliamentary hearing: “It is true that he had never missed the anniversary for Kim Il-sung’s birthday since he took power, but many anniversary events including celebrations and a banquet had been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.”
He said there were at least two instances since mid-January where Kim went missing for nearly 20 days.
He added: “I don’t think that’s particularly unusual given the current (coronavirus) situation.”
This is not the time the 36-year-old has disappeared from public view – in 2014, Kim went missing for more than a month, only to reappear on state TV walking with a limp.
Yesterday Donald Trump suggested he knew what had happened to Kim, hinting he was unwell as he said he hoped “everything will be fine”.
The president said: “Kim Jong-un? I can’t tell you exactly. Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can’t talk about it now.
“I just wish him well.”
A former CIA analyst revealed even the chosen few normally allowed to get close to Kim probably have no idea where he is, let alone whether he has died.
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The secretive way North Korea operates severely restricts the flow of information related to its top leaders – especially Kim.
Meanwhile, experts claim Kim appeared to have a needle puncture mark on his wrist in new footage – which suggests he’s had heart surgery.
Video footage of Kim’s visit to the factory in Suncheon seemed to show a small wound on his right wrist – a mark which was not present on his previous public appearance on April 11.
The leader hasn’t been seen in public for weeks (file image)[/caption]
Rumors have swirled about his health and if he is actually alive (file image)[/caption]