As rumours around North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's poor health catches fire, the country remains unusually silent, thereby fuelling speculations that something is wrong in the tightly-controlled country. Notably, social media is abuzz with speculations over Kim Jong Un's alleged death after a senior official at a Beijing-backed satellite TV channel claimed the same on Weibo. Vice Director of Hong Kong Satellite Television Shijian Xingzou reportedly stated on her Weibo account, citing top-level sources, that the North Korean leader had died. She is a niece of a Chinese minister and has over 15 million followers on Weibo.
The guessing game is on, with world powers watching the situation in North Korea very closely. The United States has "extensive contingency plans" if the news about Kim Jong-un's death turns out to be true, Fox News quoted a US intelligence source as saying. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, who's seen as his successor for a long time, was ready to assume power in the country.
The official North Korea media is, however, silent on reports around Kim Jong-un's health. No pictures on his public appearances have appeared lately. Strangely, there were no pictures of his appearance in his late grandfather's birthday ceremony on April 15, an important holiday in North Korea to honour his grandfather and country's founder Kim Il Sung.
The only official news that has come out about the North Korean dictator is that he replied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who wrote to him on his grandfather's birthday. The news, without his picture, was published in official North Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday. Several reports in the international media claimed that the 36-year-old ruler of North Korea is recovering from major heart surgery. Reuters recently reported that China had sent a team including medical experts to advise on Kim's health. Meanwhile, Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai claimed that the North Korean leader is in a "vegetative state" after a heart surgery earlier this month.
US President Donald Trump last week also called CNN reports claiming Kim Jong Un was gravely ill "incorrect" and based on "old documents". South Korea has also rubbished reports published in the Daily NK website and other South Korean media that Kim was at death's door.