North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un is in a “vegetative state” after he underwent heart surgery earlier this month, a Japanese magazine says.
The weekly Shukan Gendai reported Friday that a Chinese medic sent to North Korea as part of a team to treat Kim believed a delay in a simple procedure left the leader severely ill, Reuters reported.
North Korean media hasn’t mentioned Kim’s health or whereabouts, even though reports by other media have sparked international speculation about his well-being.
The Chinese expert told the magazine that Kim clutched his chest and fell to the ground on a visit to the countryside earlier this month. A doctor accompanying Kim performed CPR and took him to a nearby hospital.
Kim, believed to be 36, needed a stent procedure, which calls for placing a tube into a congested blood vessel to allow blood to keep flowing to the heart, according to Shukan Gendai.
The source cited by the news outlet claimed that Jong Un was visiting the countryside when he clutched his chest and fell to the ground. A doctor with him at the time is said to have performed CPR on accompanied him to a hospital.
While there is no official proof of the dictator’s death, the hashtag #KimJongUndead was trending on twitter on Friday following the report.
A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, two of the people said. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighbouring North Korea.
The sources declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.
Earlier this week, Seoul-based website Daily NK reported that Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12. The outlet cited one unnamed source in North Korea.
South Korean government officials and a Chinese official with the Liaison Department challenged subsequent reports suggesting that Kim was in grave danger after surgery, Reuters said. South Korean officials said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea.
President Donald Trump has downplayed reports that Kim is ill, and an official familiar with U.S. intelligence said the government had no reason to conclude he was seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public, Huffington Post reported.