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Kim Jong Un may be dead or in ‘vegetative state,’ Japanese media say

North Korean dictator 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.

Shukan Gendai subsequently detailed how the surgeon in charge of Kim’s operation was not used to dealing with obese patients and was too nervous during the operation, leading to delays that left Kim in a “vegetative state.”

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.

A vice director of HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television, a Beijing-backed broadcast network in Hong Kong, claimed that Kim was dead, citing a “very solid source.” Her post on the Chinese messaging app Weibo has been shared widely on social media, according to a report in the International Business Times.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Friday that China had dispatched a team that included medical experts to North Korea following conflicting reports regarding Kim’s health.

The Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department departed for North Korea on Thursday. Those involved are keeping quiet about the nature of the trip, and even the sources that reported on the trip are keeping quiet regarding what it means for Kim’s current state.

South Korean government officials initially reported on Tuesday that Kim was handling state affairs as usual, and that the government showed “no unusual activity” following rumors of Kim’s poor health. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, in response to the reports, said “it’s not true” and there was “no specific trend.”

On Wednesday, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said he has “no reason not to assume” that Kim Jong Un is still in control of the country. White House officials confirmed to Fox News that they were monitoring the situation, but confirmed nothing further.

On Thursday President Trump said he thought the report Kim was ill was “incorrect.”

“I’m hearing they used old documents,” Trump said when asked about Kim during the White House’s daily coronavirus press briefing. “I hear the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report.”

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