“I’m hearing they used old documents,” Trump said when asked about Kim during the White House’s daily coronavirus press briefing. “I hear the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report.”
Trump on Tuesday said he wished Kim well but stressed he didn’t know the veracity of the report, adding that he doesn’t give much “credence” to CNN’s journalism.
He said at the time he might contact North Korean officials about Kim but Thursday told reporters he “didn’t want to say” if he had.
“We have a good relationship with North Korea, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un and I hope he’s OK,” Trump said.
“I think it was a fake report done by CNN,” he added.
The Daily NK -- an online news periodical based in Seoul and published in Korean, which is run mostly by North Korean defectors -- reported that Kim, 36, is said to be recovering from surgery at a local villa. The report also said Kim has been in poor health due to "heavy smoking, obesity and overwork," according to a translated version of the Daily NK's report, citing an unnamed source.
Two South Korean officials denied CNN’s Tuesday report that said the U.S. is monitoring intelligence of Kim’s deteriorating health and cited unnamed sources.
Concerns about Kim’s health were raised when the leader missed the April 15 birthday celebration of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, who was Kim’s grandfather.
He hasn’t been seen in public since and North Korean state media has not reported on his whereabouts, according to Reuters.
The U.S. has reliable information regarding Kim’s absence, a source familiar with current intelligence told Reuters.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said Wednesday he has “no reason not to assume” that Kim Jong Un is still in control of the country, noting that the Pentagon has not received any intelligence to suggest otherwise.
Trump and Kim held several historic nuclear summits in 2018 and 2019 and have had a closer relationship than past U.S. presidents. Trump became the first American president to enter North Korea last year.
Kim came to power in 2011 when his father, Kim Jong Il, died of a heart attack.
U.S. officials said the reports have not been confirmed and noted that Kim has left the public eye for extended periods before, Reuters reported.
Fox News' Brooke Singman and Nick Givas contributed to this report.