North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has fallen into a coma, a former South Korean official is claiming on the heels of reports that the northern leader has ceded over some of his power to his younger sister.
Chang Song-min, a former aide to late-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, has alleged that the Hermit Kindom’s honcho has become seriously ill amid speculation about his limited public appearances this year, the Mirror reported.
“I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended,” he told South Korean media.
The former aide added that the leader’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was poised to help lead the country.
“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.
His claims come after South Korean spies revealed that the 33-year-old sibling now serves as his “de facto second-in-command,” though she has not been designated his successor.
In a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, the National Intelligence Service said the power shift partly seeks to “relieve (Kim’s) stress from his reign and avert culpability in the event of policy failure,” the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“Kim Yo Jong, the first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is steering overall state affairs based on the delegation,” the agency reportedly said.
Kim has only been seen in public a handful of times this year after rumors swirled that he was clinging to life in April due to a botched heart operation.