Kim Yo Jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons
Kim Jong Un’s sister revealed that the North Korean leader suffered from a “high fever” during a recent Covid outbreak, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus.
Repeating dubious claims that the pamphlets caused the recent Covid outbreak in the north, Kim Yo Jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday.
The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of the people.
Kim Yo Jong said in a speech that the North Korean leader was “seriously ill” during his bout with fever, according to KCNA. Still, she added that her brother “could not lie down for even a moment because of his concerns for the people.” She didn’t say whether the elder Kim was among what North Korea calls “fever cases” or specify the date of his illness.
Overweight and a smoker, Kim Jong Un’s health has prompted speculation for years. His public appearances are closely tracked for insights about the autocratic and secretive regime in Pyongyang, especially since his family has a history of heart disease.
Kim Jong Un went about 17 days without an appearance in state media last month, although the North Korean leader often drops out of view in summer to spend time at his seaside mansion and megayacht. He attended a ruling party meeting Wednesday in which he claimed “victory” in the “great quarantine war.”
North Korea hasn’t called its hundreds of thousands of reported fever cases “Covid,” perhaps because it lacks a sufficient supply of test kits. The country has refused vaccines from outside, with reports saying planned shipments have been put on hold because of its objections to rules from Covax, a World Health Organization-backed body.
While Kim Jong Un made mention of South Korea in published remarks, his sister issued her first threat against the government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol since it took power in May. “If the enemy continues to do such a dangerous thing that can introduce virus into our republic, we will respond by eradicating not only the virus but also the South Korean authorities,” she said in a speech.
The South Korean Unification Ministry expressed “strong regret” over Kim Yo Jong’s statement, calling her claims “rude” and unsubstantiated.