Rumors surrounding Kim Jong Un’s health intensified today as some Asian media outlets and TMZ claimed that he had died or is currently “gravely ill,” the Daily Mail reported, while the media spotlight has shifted to his mysterious sister.
The vice director of Hong Kong Satellite Television Shijian Xingzou says that a “very solid source” has told her the North Korean despot, 36, is already dead.
She has 15 million followers on Chinese social media Weibo, and is also the niece of one of the country’s foreign ministers, the report said.
Separately, a Japanese media outlet claims that Kim has gone into a “vegetative state” after he underwent heart surgery earlier in the month.
As reported by Asia Times and other outlets, a Chinese medic told the Japanese magazine that the leader clutched his chest and fell to the ground on a visit to the countryside. A doctor accompanying Kim performed CPR and took him to a nearby hospital, where apparently the procedure was performed.
If Kim is dead, official verification might only come from North Korea state media, which delayed the announcements of the deaths of Kim’s despotic predecessors, his father and grandfather, for up to four days.
“When it comes to North Korea you can never be too sure until you hear the news from the country itself,” said David Maxwell, a North Korea specialist at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
South Korean government officials and a Chinese official with the Liaison Department challenged subsequent reports suggesting that Kim was in grave danger, the report said. Officials said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea.
Meanwhile, China has sent a team to North Korea including medical experts to check on the Supreme Leader, according to three people familiar with the situation, The Guardian reported.
It was not immediately clear what the trip by the Chinese team signalled in terms of Kim’s health.
As questions surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s possible death reach a fever pitch, Kim Yo Jong — the disappearing dictator’s sister and closest confidante — takes the spotlight and, maybe, the top job, Forbes reported.
While she rocketed to international attention during the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Yo Jong is a somewhat mysterious figure, with basic details like her exact age (early 30s), unconfirmed by the North Korean regime, Forbes reported.
A favorite of her late father Kim Jong Il, she attended school in Switzerland, The Washington Post reported, where she took ballet lessons before returning to North Korea in the early 2000s.
Nicknamed the “Ivanka Trump of North Korea,” Kim Yo Jong said last month that President Trump and her brother had “special and firm personal relations,” despite the ongoing conflict around the latter’s nuclear weapons, an arsenal the rising leader seems eager to protect, the report said.
Responsible for pushing North Korean propaganda and protecting her brother’s reputation, she recently called South Korea a “frightened dog barking” for objecting to a live-fire military demonstration by the state, the Guardian noted.
Her proximity to her brother during recent summits has also sparked outside speculation that she may be the No. 2 in the North after her brother executed and purged potential rivals who could pose a threat to his family’s rule.