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Satellite images of luxury boats further suggest N. Korea’s Kim at favored villa: Experts

first_imgTopics : Kim’s 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.”It’s one of his favorite houses,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Center, who has compared Kim’s affinity for Wonsan to US President Donald Trump’s favored resort, Mar-a-Lago in Florida.Madden said Kim is believed to have about 13 significant compounds around the country, though he appears to only regularly use about half of them.”All of them are set up to serve as the leader’s headquarters, so they are all equipped for him to run the country,” he said.Wonsan is one of the larger and better appointed compounds, but it also has a useful location that allows Kim to easily travel to other areas along the coast, or return quickly to Pyongyang in his private train or along a special highway designated for use only by the Kim family or top officials, Madden said.Favored spot Wonsan also holds symbolic power for the Kim 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.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, although official history has never confirmed where he was born.The Japanese chef Kenji Fujimoto, who worked for the Kims and visited Wonsan, recounted in his memoirs how a young Kim Jong Un described rollerblading, playing basketball, riding jet skis and playing in the pool at the compound.Later, photos showed Kim sipping drinks there with American basketball player Dennis Rodman when the star visited North Korea in 2013.The Wonsan area has also become emblematic of Kim’s strategy for survival based on a combination of economic development, tourism, and nuclear weapons. He is rebuilding the city of 360,000 people and wants to turn it into a billion-dollar tourist hotspot.In recent months, the project has been repeatedly delayed, undermined in part by international sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, which have restricted its ability to seek foreign investment.Wonsan has also been the scene of some of Kim’s renewed military drills and missile tests, which he resumed amid increasing frustration with a lack of progress in denuclearization talks with the United States and South Korea. Satellite imagery showing recent movements of luxury boats often used by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage near Wonsan provide further indications he has been at the coastal resort, according to experts who monitor the reclusive regime.Speculation about Kim’s health and location erupted after his unprecedented absence from April 15 celebrations to mark the birthday of his late grandfather and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.On Tuesday, North Korea-monitoring website NK PRO reported commercial satellite imagery showed boats often used by Kim had made movements in patterns that suggested he or his entourage may be in the Wonsan area.center_img That followed a report last week by a US-based North Korea monitoring project, 38 North, which reported satellite images showed what was believed to be Kim’s personal train was parked at a station reserved for his use at the villa in Wonsan.Officials in South Korea and the United States say it is plausible Kim may be staying there, possibly to avoid exposure to the new coronavirus, and have expressed skepticism of media reports he had some kind of serious illness.They caution, however, that Kim’s health and location are closely guarded secrets and reliable information is difficult to obtain in North Korea.The last time official media in North Korea reported on Kim’s whereabouts was when he presided over a meeting on April 11, but there have been near-daily reports of him sending letters and diplomatic messages.last_img read more

Jose Mourinho stands by bizarre conspiracy theory

first_imgJose Mourinho has no regrets over denouncing the “clear campaign” against Chelsea and now wishes to focus only on wrapping up the Premier League title.The Blues boss was fined £25,000 for the comment, which came after the December draw at Southampton when he felt his side were denied a clear penalty, with Cesc Fabregas instead booked for diving. Since weight has been added to Mourinho’s claim, with Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic handed disputed suspensions, while marginal decisions have gone against the Blues, including in last week’s draw with Southampton, when Costa was denied a penalty.”I never regret when I speak from my feelings,” Mourinho said. “I don’t want to spend my energy thinking about the negative decisions and the points it cost us. I don’t speak about it. I can’t. I’m punished.”I just want to focus all my energy. Two months to go and in two months we can be champions.”Chelsea on Sunday play Hull, whose manager Steve Bruce criticised the Blues players following December’s meeting at Stamford Bridge, accusing Gary Cahill of a dive which was like “something out of Swan Lake”, while Willian and Costa were booked for diving. Mourinho refused to respond on Friday, but was asked about an article published on the club’s official website, headlined ‘Penalty puzzle’, which analysed the fact Chelsea have received two Premier League spot-kicks all season.The Blues boss does not believe it was a provocative piece and merely stated facts. He said: “Not for me. I don’t think the writer is going to win the Pulitzer with that article. It’s just the numbers. “It’s such a simple thing and for me there is no story. How many penalties has this team had? Five. How many penalties has that team have? Eight. How many penalties has this team had? One.”Mourinho said Chelsea missed “confrontational leadership” last season in finishing third in the Premier League behind Manchester City.The Blues boss, six points clear of City with a game in hand, says it is a motivational technique that has not been required this term.Asked for an example, Mourinho said: “Criticise a player in the media. Try to provoke a reaction from him, of anger, of not being happy with his manager, of trying to show that I’m not right.”He did that with Eden Hazard last term, criticising the often mercurial playmaker for not tracking back in the Champions League semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid. Mourinho does not take full credit for Hazard’s consistently strong performances this term, though. Mourinho added: “I don’t think it was me with that particular episode. “I just think that was a natural evolution for him. He wants to win titles, he wants to be the best, to improve his game, to score more goals.”It was an accumulation of experience, an accumulation of feelings that made him go in a certain direction.”For example, when he was Young Player of the Year it was not a big thing for him. “He doesn’t want to be the best Young Player of the Year, he wants to be the best Player of the Year.”–last_img read more