Kim Jong Un has not made a public appearance since mid-April and his health is at the center of speculation following unconfirmed reports. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
April 28 (UPI) -- The North Korean embassy in Moscow issued an unusual statement praising Kim Jong Un as speculation grows about the condition of the missing North Korean leader.
The public declaration defended the leadership as rumors swirl of a possible crisis in Pyongyang. The North Korean embassy claimed Kim had transcended difficult circumstances amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Russia's Tass news agency reported Monday.
The embassy said in its statement that, in spite of an uncertain future, Kim has proved himself to be a provider of "hope and optimism" to the North Korean people.
Pyongyang's diplomatic mission in Moscow also said Kim is "deeply trusted and respected by North Koreans," a man who is "recognized as a global figure beyond North Korea, even in the hostile countries."
As North Korea's embassy praised Kim for his "boldness of communication" and "extraordinary" diplomatic feats, a North Korean defector recently elected to a seat in South Korean parliament said it is possible Kim has health issues of some kind, CNN reported.
"Kim Jong Un is not only the leader of North Korea, but he is the grandson of Kim Il Sung...to North Korean eyes it is really abnormal" to be absent from major events, Thae Yong-ho said.
"I'm not quite sure whether he really had some surgery or whatever, but one thing is clear...he cannot stand up by himself or walk properly," the defector said, without providing more information, according to the report.
U.S. senior diplomat Stephen Biegun and his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon agreed during a teleconference Tuesday no special movement regarding Kim has been detected, according to Newsis.
South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul also said there were no "unusual trends" regarding the North Korean leadership, according to Newsis.
Kim Jong Un's absence from North Korea's Day of the Sun ceremony on April 15 may have been a response to concerns regarding COVID-19, the South Korean official said.