Kim Jong Un reportedly in a 'vegetative state' after heart surgery even as his 'death' trends on Twitter
A Japanese magazine reported that after undergoing heart surgery earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in a "vegetative state."
In the midst of worldwide speculation regarding Kim's health, Japanese media outlet Shukan Gendai reported that a Chinese medic sent to North Korea as part of a team to treat the leader believed a delay in a simple medical procedure has left the leader severely ill. The health expert told the magazine that Kim was rushed to a nearby hospital after he clutched his chest and fell to the ground on a visit to the countryside earlier this month. A CPR was performed on the leader while he was being transported to the medical facility.
It is believed that the 36-year-old underwent a stent procedure, wherein a tube is placed in a congested blood vessel to allow blood to keep flowing to the heart. The procedure is believed to have been successful, Seoul-based website Daily NK reported earlier this week citing an unnamed source in North Korea, adding that Kim was recovering after undergoing the procedure on April 12, according to New York Post.
Pyongyang has stayed mum on the current status of its leader's health as well as his whereabouts. When he failed to make an appearance for the country's most important holiday which honors the founder of the nation, Kim II Sung, on April 15, rumors started flying that Kim might be gravely ill or worse.
Meanwhile, the hashtag "KimJongUnDead" started trending on Twitter without any proof of the leader passing away.
A military veterans-run news website in the US, We Are The Mighty, reported that a senior executive of a Beijing-backed satellite TV station in China has said that Kim is dead. Kim also ended up missing the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, on April 25.
The importance of his presence or absence was highlighted by Korean-American journalist and director of The Wilson Center, Jean H. Lee, hours before the event. "It’s a military anniversary in #NorthKorea on April 25. Not a major milestone year but if #KimJongUn wants to quell rumors about his health, it would be a good occasion to make a public appearance. If he doesn’t, the rumor mill will go into overdrive again. Bracing myself," she tweeted.
After his no-show, Lee said people should wait for a credible source regarding confirmation on Kim's health.
"No, I do not know what's going on with #KimJongUn. Very few people outside his circle do. While there is often a kernel of truth in rumors about #NorthKorea, we need to wait for credible sourcing on any reports about his state of health. By 'we,' I mean those of us on Twitter. But officials in South Korea, China, Japan, Russia & the US better be working overtime to figure out what's going on & review their contingency plans," she said.
The White House and senior officials in the United States government have also remained tight-lipped about Kim's health and have dispelled rumors of his death.
"While the US continues to monitor reports surrounding the health of the North Korean Supreme Leader, at this time, there is no confirmation from official channels that Kim Jong-un is deceased," a senior Pentagon official not authorized to speak on record told Newsweek yesterday.
"North Korean military readiness remains within historical norms and there is no further evidence to suggest a significant change in defensive posturing or national level leadership changes."
During a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Trump wished Kim a speedy recovery. "I've had a very good relationship with him. I wouldn't -- I can only say this, I wish him well, because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say, that's a very serious condition, as you know," Trump said. "But I wish him well."
On Thursday, when Trump was asked about Kim's deteriorating condition, he said, "I think the report was incorrect, let me just put it that way. I hear the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report," without providing further details.
The sister of North Korea Supremo Kim Jong-un is reportedly waiting to seize complete power over the state if her sibling succumbs to the mystery illness he is purportedly battling. Experts have warned that Kim Yo-jong could be even more ruthless than her dictator brother was throughout his eight-year reign.