THERE ARE widespread reports suggesting Kim Jong-un is either dead or in a vegetative state following heart surgery.
According to a vice director at HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television [via the New York Post] the North Korean leader has passed away.
The HKSTV director cites a “very solid source” with the information.
A Japanese magazine, meanwhile, has reported that Kim is in a vegetative state following heart surgery earlier in April.
No official confirmation has been provided.
However, the North Korean ruler has not been seen in public since April 11, and was absent from the Day of Sun celebrations four days later.
This absence is seen as significant, given that the importance of the day’s festivities as a celebration of Kim Il-sung, the founding father of North Korea and Kim Jong-un's grandfather.
This past Saturday he missed another national holiday, North Korea’s Military Foundation Day, in an absence that has increased the speculation around his health.
There are contradictory reports though, indicating that Kim is alive and likely to reappear in public soon.
A South Korean source speak to Reuters said its own government’s intelligence suggests he is fine.
A similar US source also told the news agency they had "no reason to conclude he was seriously ill".
Speaking to Fox News, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to be drawn on the subject.
"I don’t have anything I can share with you tonight, but the American people should know we’re watching the situation very keenly,"” he said.
A special train possibly belonging to the North Korean ruler has since been spotted at a resort town, according to satellite images reviewed by a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project.
“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,” the report says.
Kim previously disappeared from the public eye for a month in 2014 before reappearing, walking with a limp on North Korean state TV.