KIM Jong-un has been in a coma for months and all his recent appearances were fake, a South Korean diplomat claims.
The dictator, 36, has rarely been seen in public this year, with rumours circulating in April that he was in a “vegetative state” following a botched heart op.
Chang Song-min, a former aide to ex-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, claimed Kim's sister Kim Yo-jong, 33, will take over as North Korean leader.
Chang said pictures of Kim in North Korean media in recent months were fake.
Speaking with local media, Chang Song-min said: “I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended.”
He spoke as North Korea reportedly handed over some powers to the dictator's sister.
Chang added: “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.”
'TRANSFER OF POWER'
South Korea's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) , reported last week that Kim will gradually transfer authority to his sister “to ease stress”, despite his young age.
However, the agency said the ruthless leader will still “exert absolute power” from behind the scenes while insisting the move was not linked to the tyrant's health.
Pictures emerged on Thursday showing Kim attending a government meeting – yet news outlet Reuters said it could not “independently verify” the images as they were released by the secretive country.
Speculation in April that Kim had died or was in a vegetative state were quickly quashed when the portly dictator turned up at the opening of a fertiliser factory 30 miles north of capital Pyongyang.
There have also been reports that his low profile this year is down to Kim shielding himself during the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19.
Kim's sister is said to be one of his most trusted confidantes and has masterminded his public image.
The 33-year-old, who was educated in Europe like her brother, is believed to be behind the renewed aggressive approach to neighbour South Korea.
Daily NK reported sources inside the secretive state have claimed she is now attempting to secure her position within the regime by taking on the South.
Her tyrannical brother reportedly wants to ensure she has enough support to take over as a type of queen-regent should he die before his 12-year-old son comes of age.
Yo-jong reportedly needs to win some "revolutionary achievements" to get the support in North Korea's highly traditional ruling class.
A source said: "She can’t rule the country from the military like her brother, so she is expanding her authority through the Propaganda and Agitation Department, just like her father Kim Jong-il."
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