Satellite imagery depicting the recent movements of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s luxury boats provide indications he has of late been staying at the coastal resort of Wonsan, North Korea-monitoring website NK PRO reported, thereby underpinning findings by US-based North Korea monitoring project 38 North. The latter reported last week that satellite images at their disposal showed what was purported to be Kim's personal train parked at a station reserved for his use at the Wonsan villa - one of around 12 compounds used by North Korea’s leader.
South Korean and US officials have since argued it is highly probable that Mr Kim may be staying there, perhaps to escape the globally raging coronavirus, busting media reports that he had some kind of serious illness or was allegedly on his death bed.
For instance, South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul suggested on at least two occasions that Kim’s escape from the public eye may have something to do with the coronavirus crisis.
Kim's seaside compound in Wonsan, on the country's east coast, is believed to be a secure and well equipped place for Kim to run the country from during the quarantine, according to SBS News.
The resort features guest villas and a private beach, basketball court, and private train station, according to experts and satellite imagery cited by the media.
An airstrip there was reportedly bulldozed last year to erect a horse riding track, while a boathouse nearby is believed to shelter Kim's luxury yacht Princess 95 worth around $10 million, according to 2013 estimates.
"It's one of his favourite houses", said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Centre, as cited by SBS. He went on to allege that Kim favours Wonsan as much as US President Donald Trump likes his much frequented resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Wonsan has a historic meaning for the Kim dynasty: there, back in 1945, Kim Il Sung took power founding North Korea at the end of Japanese rule. It is also understood to be the location where some missile testing has occurred.
On 11 April, it first emerged that Kim Jong-un had dropped out of sight, but the lion’s share of questions arose because the North Korean leader was unexpectedly absent from the landmark Day of the Sun celebrations, honouring Kim’s grandfather and DPRK founder Kim Il Sung. Rumours have since been circulating about Kim being anything from slightly unwell to lingering “in a vegetative state” unable to walk, etc. None of them have been confirmed by any of the country’s authorities.