NEW YORK, Ny. – A cache of top-secret documents published by the controversial whistle-blower website Wikileaks on Monday revealed that in September of 2014, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un traveled in secret to the United States where, posing as a Japanese sumo wrestler, he underwent ankle surgery at one of New York City’s most prestigious hospitals.
In October of 2014, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reported in a briefing to lawmakers that a cyst had been found on the North Korean dictator’s right ankle. Intelligence analysts believed at the time that due to possible muscle or nerve damage, Kim had undergone surgery to remove the cyst at the hands of several “European experts” that were flown to Pyongyang.
However, according to internal CIA communications obtained by Wikileaks, Kim and a small entourage, all carrying forged Japanese passports and identification papers, flew from Beijing International Airport on a direct flight to New York’s JFK International Airport. “From the moment they landed, they were under intense surveillance,” a U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity told The New York Times.
Kim Jong-un, accompanied by a handful of high-ranking North Korean officials, checked into the Plaza, a five-star luxury hotel opposite Central Park on Fifth Avenue. According to hotel records obtained by The New York Times, Kim was registered under the name ‘Keito Kamatsu’ and prior to his arrival, hotel staff were briefed on Kim’s fictitious status as a world-renowned sumo champion.
“We were absolutely delighted to host Mr. Keito,” Grace Baldwin, a concierge at the Plaza hotel, told the New York Daily News. Ms. Baldwin described Kim as jovial yet reserved. He reminded her of “an over-sized teddy bear, like the kind they used to sell at FAO Schwarz.” Baldwin went on to say that Kim and his entourage racked up more than $26,000 in room service charges during their three-week stay. “Most of it was spent on desserts,” she admitted.
However, splurging on lavish desserts wasn’t all the autocratic dictator did while visiting the Big Apple. On September 19, 2014, Kim Jong-un checked into the New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the cyst on his ankle. According to a document marked TOP SECRET//SCI//NOFORN, meaning sensitive compartmentalized information that should not be viewed by foreign nationals, two members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division were present and posing as hospital staff during the procedure.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who reviewed the classified material in full, said it’s not clear what role – if any – the CIA agents might have played during Kim’s operation at New York-Presbyterian. “Were they merely there to observe or was there a more sinister purpose behind their presence?” Assange speculated as to whether the CIA may have implanted a tracking device in the North Korean leader’s ankle before doctors had a chance to sew him up and send him on his way.