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Speculation the North Korea leader Kim Jong-un may be dead has erupted for the second time this year. Rumours began circulating that the dictator had died following a supposed botched heart operation. He was later seen alive following the incident, but now fresh claims are doing the rounds. Is Kim Jong-un dead?
North Korea, a dictatorship, has now reportedly handed over some power to his sister, Kim Yo-Jung.
She is said to be his closest ally, and is said to be chiefly involved in shaping policies towards Washington and Seoul, according to Seoul’s spy agency.
This week, South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) , reported that Kim will gradually transfer authority to his sister “to ease stress”, despite his young age.
Ms Kim is currently serving as the first vice director of her brother’s political party, United Front Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and has been considered as his possible successor.
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.
Kim Jong-un, said to be aged around 36, has only been seen a handful of times this year which has fuelled speculation that he could have died or be in a vegetative state.
Is Kim Jong-un dead?
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is claimed to be in a coma which “could spell disaster for the country”.
The former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung made the claim about the leader days after he handed over the powers to his younger sister.
Chang Song-min told South Korean media: “I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended.
“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”, he told South Korean media.
North Korean state media has not corroborated the claims.
He has not been seen in public since April this year.
Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011 following the death of his father.
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Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s “Dear Leader”, was in the process of grooming him as his successor when he died in December 2011.
Immediately after his father’s death, the younger Kim was hailed as “the great successor”. He was named head of the party, state and army within a fortnight of his father’s death.
Since then, despite historic talks with the US and moves to improve relations with South Korea, he has shown his commitment to the advancement of North Korea’s weapons programme, ordering nuclear and missile tests.
He has also shown himself to be ruthless with the purge of his powerful uncle and the murder, widely attributed to an order from him, of his half-brother.
Under him, the development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes has continued and appears to have made rapid strides.
Four more nuclear tests have taken place, bringing the regime’s total to six.
According to South Korean intelligence, he has three children with his wife Ri Sol-ju.
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