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Kim Jong Un aircraft seen headed east, report says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be headed to North Korea's eastern coast, according to flight tracker data on Wednesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be headed to North Korea's eastern coast, according to flight tracker data on Wednesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- An online aviation tracker has spotted Kim Jong Un's jet in North Korean airspace, according to a South Korean press report.

Flightradar24, a Swedish online flight tracker that shows real-time data on aircraft movements, confirmed the Air Koryo aircraft, identified as an Antonov An-148, was seen flying in the direction of the city of Hamhung around 10 a.m. after departing from Pyongyang, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

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The An-148 lost its signal after arriving in an area near Yodok town, South Hamgyong Province, according to the report.

Kim has previously used the An-148, with a maximum range of 1,300 to 2,700 miles, during field guidance visits. It is highly likely the North Korean leader, who has stayed out of the public spotlight in recent days, was on the plane, Yonhap says.

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According to the report, Kim could be headed to Sinpo Shipyard, where the regime builds weapons, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles. At Sinpo, North Korea has conducted several SLBM tests. Submarines are also built at the shipyard.

The North Korean leader has refrained from issuing public statements, as his sister, senior official Kim Yo Jong, has taken to condemning the South on a near-daily basis.

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Kim Jong Un's 20-day absence in April triggered wild speculation regarding his health, following unconfirmed reports he was in critical condition after receiving heart surgery.

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South Korea's national intelligence sources said at the time that satellite imagery indicated a special train for Kim Jong Un's use had moved from Pyongyang to the coastal city of Wonsan. His private plane remained in the North Korean capital at the time, as he may have been evacuated due to coronavirus fears.

North Korea has claimed there are zero cases of COVID-19 in the country, but may still be angry with the South for not doing enough to deliver antiviral equipment and gear, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday.

Recent provocations reflect North Korea's frustration at the South, a Seoul-based diplomatic source said, according to the report.

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