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Thursday, 30 April 2020

Satellite images of luxury boats 'suggest Kim Jong Un is in North Korean coastal resort'

Satellite images showing the recent movements of luxury boats suggest Kim Jong Un is in the coastal resort of Wonsan, according to experts who monitor his secretive regime.

Photographs of vessels used by the North Korean leader and his entourage have emerged amid speculation about his health and whereabouts.

Kim has not been seen in public since 11 April and was absent from celebrations to mark the birthday of his late grandfather and North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung four days later.
NK Pro, a North Korean-monitoring website, says commercial satellite images show boats often used by Kim or his entourage in the Wonsan area.
The site added that the vessels made unusual movements around the time of a missile test by Pyongyang on 14 April.


The photographs come after 38 North, a US-based North Korea monitoring project, shared satellite images showing what was believed to be Kim's personal train in Wonsan.
The train was parked at a station reserved for his use.
US and South Korean officials say it is plausible Kim is staying there, possibly to avoid exposure to coronavirus.
The officials are also sceptical of media reports claiming the dictator had some kind of serious illness.
They cautioned that Kim's health and location are closely guarded secrets and reliable information is difficult to obtain in North Korea.
The last time North Korean state media reported on Kim's whereabouts was when he presided over a meeting on 11 April, but there have been near-daily reports of him sending letters and diplomatic messages.
Kim's seaside compound in Wonsan, on the country's east coast, is dotted with guest villas and serviced by a private beach, basketball court, and private train station, according to experts and satellite imagery.
An airstrip was bulldozed last year to build a horse riding track, while a boathouse nearby shelters Kim's Princess 95 luxury yacht, valued at around $7m (£5.6m) in 2013.
Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Center, said: "It's one of his favourite houses."
He also compared Kim's affinity for Wonsan to US President Donald Trump's favoured Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Mr Madden said Kim is believed to have about 13 significant compounds around the country, though he appears to only regularly use about half of them.
He continued: "All of them are set up to serve as the leader's headquarters, so they are all equipped for him to run the country."
Mr Madden said Wonsan is one of the larger and better appointed compounds, but it also has a useful location that allows Kim to easily travel to other areas along the coast.
He added it also allows him to return quickly to Pyongyang in his private train or along a special highway designated for use only by the Kim family or top officials.

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