North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has sent a “verbal message” to Chinese leader Xi Jinping , state media KCNA reported on Friday, after weeks of speculation about his health. The news agency did not explain what it meant by a “verbal message,” and it was not clear if Kim and Xi had spoken directly. The message was “in connection with the fact that China is registering success in preventing the Covid-19 infection”, according to KCNA, with Kim extending his “warm greetings” to Xi. Rumours about Kim’s health have been swirling since his conspicuous no-show at April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather, the North’s founder – the most important day in the country’s political calendar. He was absent for weeks before reappearing on May 2 at a factory opening. Kim’s temporary disappearance triggered a series of fevered rumours and unconfirmed reports over his condition, while the United States and South Korea insisted they had no information to believe any of the conjecture was true. In a separate North Korean media report Friday, a spokesman for North Korea’s armed forces called a South Korean military drill set for this week “reckless” and a “provocation.” The North Korean side has often used such exercises as a pretence for its own military displays. Kim Jong-un did not have surgery, South Korean official says “Such reckless move of the military warmongers of the south side is the height of the military confrontation which would leave tongue-tied even their master,” KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying. The comment came after Seoul accused North Korean troops Sunday of firing on South Korean personnel in the demilitarised zone that divides the two countries. South Korea said the action violated a 2018 military agreement between President Moon Jae-in and Kim to suspend hostile actions that could prompt conflict. Beijing has for decades worried about leadership instability in nuclear-armed North Korea that could ignite a humanitarian crisis on its border, or even a collapse of the regime. That would open the door to the emergence of a unified Korea supported by the US. Is Kim Jong-un ill? Reports shine light on North Korea’s rumour mill The stability of impoverished North Korea concerns not only China and its other immediate neighbours, but the world. A power vacuum would raise questions about who controls its estimated stockpile of enough fissile material for as many as 60 nuclear bombs and hundreds of missiles capable of delivering an atomic payload. Despite being between China – the original epicentre of the virus outbreak – and South Korea, which briefly was one of the hardest-hit countries, North Korea has said it hasn’t had any confirmed cases of Covid-19. Some including the commander of U.S. Forces Korea have expressed doubts about that claim. China and South Korea have both seen dramatic falls in new infections over the past several weeks and are starting to reopen their economies after massive efforts to contain the virus.