Striking satellite images capture the recent movement of luxury boats near Kim Jong-un’s favourite hideaway, further adding to the mystery of the leader’s whereabouts.
The tyrant has not been seen publicly for ten days and missed celebrations on April 15 to mark the birthday of his late grandfather and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.
Speculation has since been rife about Mr Jong-un’s health.
But experts say the boats in the commercial satellite imagery are often used by Kim.
They’ve made movements in patterns that suggested he or his entourage may be in the Wonsan area, his favourite resort.
Other satellite images last week reportedly showed what was believed to be the leader’s personal train parked at a station reserved for his use at the villa in Wonsan.
Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Center, said: “It’s one of his favourite houses.”
The 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 $7 million in 2013.
Officials in South Korea and the United States say it is plausible Mr Jong-un may be staying there, possibly to avoid exposure to the new coronavirus, and have expressed scepticism of media reports he had some kind of serious illness.
However, they added that the leader’s health and location are closely guarded secrets and reliable information is difficult to obtain in North Korea.
He was last seen, though, on April 11 when he presided over a meeting.
Wonsan, though, also holds symbolic power for the family dynasty – It was there Kim Il Sung, who helped found North Korea at the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945, first landed with Soviet troops to take over the country.
And Wonsan is believed by some experts to be Kim Jong-un’s birthplace, partly because he spent his early years at the family’s palace there.
Official history has never confirmed where he was born though.
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