Ji Seong-ho believes Pyongyang could announce this weekend that the dictator has passed away and that a successor – probably Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong – has been chosen.
Amid unverified allegations that Kim died in a vegetative state, “critically” ill or recovering from having heart surgery, lawmakers said they were informed that Kim died last weekend after suffering a cardiovascular operation.
North Korea wanted to confirm the disappearance of its leader and announce a period of mourning because “it is grappling with a complicated inheritance problem,” he added.
Kim has not been seen in public since April 11 – almost three weeks ago – when he oversaw a Politburo meeting.
He was said to have had heart surgery the next day.
Satellite images show train parked at “leadership station” in Wonsan resort for more than a week – suggesting Kim may be in his luxury resort – but observers from North Korea have warned that could be a diversion tactic.
It has also been suggested that Kim may have left Pyongyang to avoid the coronavirus, after people close to him got the killer virus, and that he is “alive and well”.
But there are signs that Kim is not making leadership decisions and that North Korea has stopped trying to silence the rapid spread of rumors that he is dead or in poor health.
Ji, who won a proportional representation seat in the South Korean elections on April 15, told news agency Yonhap: “I wondered how long he could have endured after cardiovascular surgery.
“I was informed that Kim passed away last weekend. “
He added, “It’s not 100% certain, but I can say the possibility is 99%. North Korea would face a complicated inheritance problem. “
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Ji said there may be an announcement this weekend and that Kim’s sister is likely to succeed him.
He did not reveal the source of his information.
Allegations regarding Kim’s or North Korean’s activities are almost impossible to verify due to the country’s secrecy and isolation.
The deaths of the only two previous Pyongyang leaders – Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder, and Father Kim Jong-il – were announced by state media two days after their deaths, triggering periods of mourning.
The South Korean presidency has insisted that it has not detected any “unusual” signs in North Korea amid speculation about Kim’s health and his absence in state media reports.
Taiwan’s intelligence chief Chiu Kuo-cheng has told Taipei’s lawmakers that Kim is “sick” and that North Korea has made contingency plans in the event of a power vacuum.
British Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America had not seen Kim and was watching health reports, adding that there was a real risk of famine in the country in the midst of the epidemic of coronavirus.
Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea, where he is now a legislator, recently suggested that Kim had health problems.
He told CNN, “I don’t know if he really had surgery or anything, but one thing is clear … he can’t stand alone or walk properly. “
There has also been speculation that North Korea is preparing to test another missile in the sea.
North Korean propaganda networks have not said anything about Kim’s health or his absence from the public for weeks, and they continue to report that he makes decisions and sends messages to world leaders.
Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, 32, who is her closest confidant, her uncle Kim Pyong-il, 65, and her first military chief, Choe Ryong, have been named as possible successors if the chief current is deceased or unable to continue.
South Korean National Assembly research services, a legislative think tank, said that Kim’s sister had recently had increasing influence in Pyongyang.
The think tank report added, “This suggests the possibility of expanding its status and role as an official successor. “
However, some observers believe that she would be rejected by the North Korean elite and would be ignored because she is a woman.
Kim Jong-un, 36, was prepared to become the country’s next leader after his father’s health failed.
He would have three children, but they are all very young and unable to take control of the country.
With so many and varied claims about Kim’s health and the reason for her being out of public view, the only thing that is certain is that no one outside of North Korea really knows if he is dead. or alive.
Experts said that only a handful of people close to Kim would know the truth.
Rumors of Kim’s health and allegations that he has died have spread across the country, as well as a false television report on his disappearance, we learned.
Speculation about Kim’s health erupted after missing an annual birthday celebration for his late grandfather – an important date on the North Korean calendar – on April 15.
It was followed by a report from the Seoul-based Daily NK website, which is run by defectors, which claimed that Kim had heart surgery on April 12.
Kim’s condition was deemed stable after the operation and he is recovering in a villa while doctors continue to monitor him, a source in North Korea said on the website.
Since this report, there have been unverified allegations that Kim is dead, in a vegetative state or “alive”.
South Korea warned of reports of Kim’s death or illness, and Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Wednesday that Kim was away from the public for a long time. new.
There is speculation that Kim went to her Wonsan resort after a train, believed to be her own, was spotted at a station there on satellite images released by the Korea surveillance project Washington-based North, 38 North.
The train was first noticed on April 21 and was only there on Sunday, although the motor car was gone or moved under an awning, 38 North reported.
He was said to have left Pyongyang for his coastal retreat due to a coronavirus epidemic in the country.
New satellite images released by NK Pro show recent movements of luxury boats often used by Kim off the coast of Wonsan.
This is where the dictator keeps a luxury yacht Princess 95 which was once valued at $ 7 million.