For the past week, rumors have been circulating about the health of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. According to early reports, the notorious leader needed to undergo some type of surgery, and the operation may have left him braindead or worse. Some reports had indicated that he may have even passed away.
These reports were initially denied by the North Korean government, but after days of no official address from the leader, speculation began to intensify about his condition. If Kim was in perfect health, he would usually appear in public as quickly as possible to dispel any rumors about his ability to rule the country. The speculation about Kim's condition grew on Thursday when China announced that they were sending a team of medical experts to North Korea so they could see how he was doing.
Reuters reported that a delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, but no other details about the trip were immediately available.
Most of the reports about the leader's grave condition have come from news sources in South Korea and Japan, but North Korean sources have insisted that these are nothing but rumors. The last time that North Korea’s state media reported on Kim’s whereabouts was on April 11th, when he attended a government meeting. A few days later, on April 15, Kim may have missed the celebration of his grandfather's birthday, because there were no reports of him being there, as there typically would be for such a large and important event.
The media in North Korea entirely revolves around Kim, and it is very rare for him to disappear from public life like this, but it has happened on rare occasions before. In 2014, the leader disappeared for more than a month before returning in later footage where he was walking with a limp.
The fact that a medical team was sent from China has raised alarms, considering that the 2008 death of Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, played out in a similar fashion.
This morning, additional reports began to come from media sources in Japan, indicating that Kim Jong Un is in a "vegetative state." According to FOX, the Japanese magazine Shukan Gendai reported that Kim allegedly collapsed during a visit to a rural area of North Korea back in April. While the exact health issue he was facing is not entirely clear, the magazine reported that Kim required a stent procedure after the incident, citing an unnamed member of his medical team. Another source told the paper that Kim was left in a "vegetative state" because the surgeon was too nervous to do the operation.
The leader's condition is still unknown, but the speculation reached new heights over the weekend, when #KIMJONGUNDEAD became a top trending topic on Twitter.
US government officials have revealed that they have had a "contingency plan" in place for the possibility of the North Korean leader's passing, but the specifics of that plan remain classified.