Daily Memo: ‘Grave Danger’ in Oil Markets and North Korea

Reports about Kim Jong Un's health are dubious, but anything is plausible at this point.

Kim rumors. CNN on Monday night, quoting a single U.S. intelligence official, reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in “grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery.” Bloomberg was likewise told by unnamed U.S. officials that Kim was in critical condition following a cardiovascular surgery. South Korean media confirmed that Kim had had heart surgery. However, the official line out of Seoul is that there’s been nothing out of the ordinary giving reason to be suspicious about the state of Kim’s health — that the 36-year-old Kim appears to be conducting “normal activities” in a rural part of the country — and that there’s no evidence of an emergency in the North. Beijing, too, pushed back on the rumors: Reuters quoted an unnamed official with China’s International Liaison Department who said Kim is not believed to be critically ill. North Korea is a black box, so to evaluate these sorts of reports, we’re always stuck working with scraps of information about conditions inside the country and watching for unusual behavior among the North’s neighbors. Some context adding credence to the rumors: Kim hasn’t been seen in public since chairing a ruling party meeting on April 11. He missed […]

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