KIM JONG-UN, North Korea’s Supreme Leader is dead – according to multiple sources coming out of North Korea and the Far East, though due to the hyper-secretive nature of the pariah state the exact picture remains unclear. It was being reported as fact by media outlets in China and Japan that the 36-year-old dictator was dead. Other sources said he was on his death bed in a vegetative state with no hope of resuscitation after botched heart surgery. Because of the nature of the ultra secret regime in North Korea, claims of Kim Jong-un’s death are very difficult to verify before an official state announcement. But a Hong Kong-backed news channel’s vice director, who claims to be the niece of a Chinese foreign minister, made the announcement. Vice director of HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television Shijian Xingzou says that a ‘very solid source’ has told her Kim Jong-un was dead.
Further sources were reporting a Chinese medical team had been sent to North Korean capital Pyongyang. Hours ago a Japanese weekly called Shukan Gendai claimed the North Korea’s dictator was in a vegetative state after complications from heart surgery. A Chinese doctor – who is believed to have been part of the team sent to treat Kim Jong-Un – was reported as saying a delay in a simple heart procedure had left the leader severely ill. Further specific details were unknown. Reports of Kim’s death sparked fears of major civil unrest in North Korea – believed to be a nuclear-armed state. It comes after insiders claimed China has sent a team of doctors to North Korea to determine the status of Kim Jong-Un’s health. The Chinese delegation left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday and included doctors and CCP officials, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters.
The nature of China’s delegation was not announced and Beijing has so far refused to comment. On Monday, speculation spread that the North Korean leader was in ill health after undergoing heart surgery on April 12 after unconfirmed reports emerged – which were swiftly denied. South Korean government officials and a Chinese official with the Liaison Department have challenged subsequent reports suggesting that Kim was in grave danger after surgery. They said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea. And on Thursday, US President Donald Trump also downplayed earlier reports that Kim was gravely ill. He said: “I think the report was incorrect,” before declining to say if he had been in touch with North Korean officials.
On Friday, a South Korean source said their intelligence was that Kim was alive and would likely make an appearance soon. The person said he did not have any comment on Kim’s current condition or any Chinese involvement. An official familiar with US intelligence said that Kim was known to have health problems but they had no reason to conclude he was seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public. When asked about Kim’s health, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo told Fox News: “I don’t have anything I can share with you tonight, but the American people should know we’re watching the situation very keenly”.
North Korea is one of the world’s most isolated and secretive countries and the health of its leaders is treated as a matter of state security. State media from the hermit state last reported on Kim’s whereabouts when he presided over a meeting on April 11. It did not report that he was in attendance at an event to mark the birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15, an important anniversary in North Korea. Amid reports that Kim’s health might be deteriorating there are fears about the effects the North Korean dictator’s death might have. According to a South Korean official, the lack of a designated heir could throw the country into turmoil. This may even lead to a civil war according to the source. A large refugee crisis is also said to be highly possible. The North Korean military is also expected to fight off any foreign intervention. This would complicate any efforts by the US or South Korea to secure any of the nation’s weapons of mass destruction.
Kim, 36, has disappeared from coverage in North Korean state media before. In 2014, he vanished for more than a month and North Korean state TV later showed him walking with a limp. Speculation about his health has been fanned by his heavy smoking, apparent weight gain since taking power and family history of cardiovascular problems. When Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, suffered a stroke in 2008, South Korean media reported at the time that Chinese doctors were involved in his treatment along with French physicians. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping made the first state visit in 14 years by a Chinese leader to North Korea, an impoverished state that depends on Beijing for economic and diplomatic support. China is North Korea’s chief ally and the economic lifeline for a country hard-hit by U.N. sanctions, and has a keen interest in the stability of the country with which it shares a long, porous border.
Kim is a third-generation hereditary leader who came to power after his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011 from a heart attack. He has visited China four times since 2018. Mr Trump held unprecedented summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019 as part of a bid to persuade him to give up North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Claims that the leader was dead were further muddied tonight as news agency Reuters filed a story which said: “A special train, possibly belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was spotted this week at a resort town in the country, according to satellite images reviewed by a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, amid conflicting reports about Kim’s health and whereabouts. “The monitoring project, 38 North, said in its report on Saturday that the train was parked at the “leadership station” in Wonsan on April 21 and April 23.” The station is reserved for the use of the Kim family, the report added. But it said: “The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast.”