For several days, there have been rumors of communist North Korea’s porky-pig dictator Kim Jong Un, 36, being on the verge of death.
Telling signs include the fact that he hasn’t been seen since April 11, and his absence from Saturday’s much-ballyhooed 88th anniversary of the birth of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.
But South Korean officials said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea. President Trump downplayed the rumors, and an official familiar with U.S. intelligence said the U.S. had no reason to conclude Kim to be seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public.
Today, however, comes more news that confirm the rumors:
(1) First came a report from Japanese news weekly Shukan Gendai that Kim was in a “vegetative state” after he underwent heart surgery earlier this month.
A Chinese medic sent to North Korea as part of a team to treat Kim told the weekly that Kim had clutched his chest and fell to the ground on a field trip to the countryside earlier this month. A doctor accompanying Kim performed CPR, took him to a nearby hospital, and made an urgent request to China to send a medical team from Beijing immediately.
A Chinese team of nearly 50 medics headed for Pyongyang with a special machine, but the North Korean medical group believed they could not wait for the Chinese and decided to perform an emergency cardiac stent operation by placing a tube into a congested blood vessel to allow blood to keep flowing to the heart.
Alas, the Korean cardiac surgeon “was very nervous and his hands trembled. Moreover, he had no experience” operating on a body as “obese” as Kim’s. It took the surgeon eight minutes to insert the stent, when normally the procedure would take about a minute. Kim went into a coma. By the time the Chinese medic team arrived, they “couldn’t do anything anymore.”
(2) Today, the New York Post reports that a Hong Kong broadcast network claims that Kim had died, citing a “very solid source.”
Kim Jong Un has been supreme leader since 2011. He has a family history of heart problems: both his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim Il Sung reportedly died of a heart attack.
If Kim is dead, official verification might only come from North Korea state media, which delayed the announcements of the deaths of Kim’s despotic predecessors, his father and grandfather, for up to four days.
David Maxwell, a North Korea specialist at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said:
“When it comes to North Korea you can never be too sure until you hear the news from the country itself. But it’s worth noting that there are 6.5 million smartphones in North Korea now and even though the coverage is within the country, information has a way of getting out faster now than it did in the past.”
Maxwell said the Wuhan coronavirus could have been a contributing factor, given Kim’s underlying conditions of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. North Korea has claimed zero COVID-19 cases but Maxwell maintains they could be lying. North Korea will likely shut down every inch of the border in the event of Kim’s death, and the country’s Politburo will meet behind closed doors to designate his successor, who will most likely be his little sister, Kim Yo Jong, 31.