Taiwan’s national security head under fire over comment on Kim’s health

National Security Bureau Director Chiu Kuo-cheng panned over suggestion that Kim Jong Un was ill

Director-General of National Security Bureau Chiu Kuo-cheng.

Director-General of National Security Bureau Chiu Kuo-cheng. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB) director has come under fire for alleging that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was ill, after the dictator made an appearance on Friday (May 1) that quelled rumors surrounding his well-being.

NSB Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) had suggested Kim was "unwell" at a legislative interpellation session Thursday (April 30), when answering a question about Kim's health status and if there were contingency plans in place.

The comment quickly drew criticism after North Korean state media published footage and photos on May 2 showing Kim attending a fertilizer factory completion ceremony on Labor Day (May 1). The visit marked his first public appearance since April 11, when he presided over a Politburo meeting.

Yu Pei-chen (于北辰), a retired general, slammed Chiu for the reckless statement, which he said could compromise Taiwan's intelligence network, reported Storm Media. Chiu, who attended another interpellation on Monday (May 5), maintained that Kim was sick, brushing off intelligence failure allegations by saying that "intelligence is not a true or false question, but information assessment," according to ETToday.

Downplaying Chiu's remarks, political scientist Chang Ching (張競) pointed out that what matters most is information that can only be divulged behind closed doors. Public comments by intelligence officials should always be treated with suspicion, he said in a Facebook post.

While media outlets continue to question Kim's health even after his recent appearance, a South Korean official said on Sunday (May 3) that Kim had not received surgery or any other medical procedure, per the AP.