North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly in a coma

Brianne Tolj
·2-min read

Rumours are swirling that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in a coma as his health reportedly continues to fail.

The dictator has rarely been pictured this year and was feared to have died in April after an alleged “botched” heart operation.

The 36-year-old, who reportedly handed over some powers to his sister three days ago, “is in a coma, but his life has not ended,” Change Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung, told local media outlets, The Mirror reports.

He said the leader’s sister, 33-year-old Kim Yo-jong, will take over his role while he is absent.

Kim Yo Jong, right, stands next to her brother North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he sits at a desk
Kim Yo Jong, right, helps her brother North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign a joint statement following the summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Source: AP

“A complete succession structure has not been formed, so Kim Yo-jong is being brought to the fore as the vacuum cannot be maintained for a prolonged period,” he said, according to The Mirror.

Over the weekend it was reported by CNN that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) informed the hermit country’s top politicians that Ms Yo-jong is now “de-facto second in command”.

In a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Thursday, Seoul's spy agency said the stress of managing state affairs had caused Kim to recently delegate some of his powers to a select group of senior officials.

Ms Yo-jong is now chiefly involved in shaping policies toward the US and South Korea.

Lawmaker Ha Tae-keung has refuted the claims, saying NIS, which has a mixed track record in reading developments in North Korea’s secretive ruling elite, insisted Kim Jong Un’s rule over his country remains absolute.

A woman walks past a television news screen showing a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a ceremony on May 2. Source: Getty
Lawmaker Ha Tae-keung has refuted the claims, saying NIS, insisted Kim Jong Un’s rule over his country remains absolute. Source: Getty

There are no signs that Kim is experiencing health problems or is grooming his sister as his successor, Ha paraphrased NIS officials as saying.

Last week, Kim Jong Un sacked his premier after an evaluation of the cabinet’s performance in economic policies.

He also said the country was facing a dual challenge of fending off COVID and repairing damage from torrential rain that lashed the country in recent weeks, destroying thousands of homes and nearly 100,000 acres of crops.

Kim insisted North Korea will keep its borders shut and reject any outside help.

with AP

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