MONDAY AUG 24
The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the repeated unexplained disappearances from public have South Korean media in a frenzy, news.com reports.
A former South Korean official has told local broadcasters that recent moves within North Korea to give Kim’s sister — Kim Yo Jong — unprecedented powers is the result of the dictator’s failing health, the reports reveal.
Chang Song-min, a former aide to late-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, alleged Kim is “in a coma”.
“I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended,” he told South Korean media.
He noted that Kim’s sister, who is just 33, is poised to take the leadership in his absence.
“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,” Chang said.
As reported by The Guardian over the weekend, Kim Yo Jong has been given partial authority to oversee general state affairs in a move that is seen as easing Kim’s workload.
CNN reports that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told the country’s politicians that Kim’s sister is now “de-facto second in command”.
The power shift also means other top-ranking officials in Pyongyang will be given greater autonomy, nine years after Kim took power.
North Korean state-run news agency KCNA reports that a meeting with the country’s top leaders is being organised amid concerns about the impact of the coronavirus.
Kim Yo Jong has shown she is ready to take on a greater role if rumours about her brother’s ill health are true. She has been outspoken in the past, including in July this year when she directly challenged the US.
Kim commented that meetings with the US and North Korea need not go ahead because the Trump organisation had shown it was unwilling to budge from its stance on the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Victoria has recorded 116 new coronavirus cases and 15 deaths, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced.
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