North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has fallen into a coma, a former South Korean official, is claiming on the heels of reports that he delegated some power to his sister, including responsibility for relations with the US.
Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung, made the sensational claims to South Korean media amid speculation about his limited public appearances this year, reported New York Post.
“I assess him (Kim Jong Un) to be in a coma, but his life has not ended,” he was quoted as saying by The Korea Herald. “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 added.
The former aide added that the leader’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was poised to help lead the country.
“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 said.
Kim told a gathering of ruling party leaders that the country “faced unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects” and that his development goals had been “seriously delayed,” state media said Thursday. The unusually candid assessment came as sanctions, flooding and the coronavirus pandemic pushed the North Korean economy toward what was expected to be its worst contraction in more than two decades.
Hours later, South Korean lawmakers told reporters that the country’s spy agency determined that Kim had delegated responsibility for relations with Seoul and Washington to his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. While she had taken an increasingly public role in diplomatic matters, such as responding to a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, one lawmaker described a more formal power-sharing arrangement.
North Korea also announced plans for the first national congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea since 2016 next year. The key party meeting in January would provide another platform to promote prominent officials such as his sister, and purge others. Last week, Kim replaced the premier he appointed a little more than a year ago, in another sign of political tension in Pyongyang.
Kim has been facing difficulties on various fronts, and a reported health scare earlier this year raised questions about succession. His nuclear discussions with Trump have ground to a halt without him winning any sanctions relief, and the U.S. and South Korea this week kicked off joint military drills.
In a closed-door briefing to South Korean lawmakers on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, Seoul’s spy agency said the stress of managing state affairs caused Kim to recently delegate some of his powers to a select group of senior officials, including his sister Kim Yo Jong, who is now chiefly involved in shaping policies toward Washington and Seoul. the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“Kim Yo Jong, the first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is steering overall state affairs based on the delegation,” the agency reportedly said, NY Post reported.