But Roy Calley, a journalist who has travelled extensively in the Hermit State, says such are the levels of secrecy there that not even those livin
But Roy Calley, a journalist who has travelled extensively in the Hermit State, says such are the levels of secrecy there that not even those living in North Korea will realise what is going on. Mr Calley was speaking after Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late President Kim Dae-jung, said he believed the 36-year-old, who has been in power since 2011, was in a coma.
His claim is the latest with respect to Kim’s health, with widespread rumours of his death surfacing in April when he was not seen in public for a fortnight.
Since then footage has emerged purportedly showing him attending official engagements.
However, Mr Calley, who chronicles his time spent in North Korea during the course of his book, Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World, has always been sceptical, pointing out it was impossible to say with any degree of certainty when they were filmed.
He told Express.co.uk: “I honestly believe he’s dead but you just can’t tell with that country.
“I could be in Pyongyang now and be none the wiser.”
With reference to persistent reports speculating about Kim’s health, coupled with suggestions his 32-year-old sister was now regarded as his de-facto successor, Mr Calley said: “The fact that there is so much information /misinformation being released suggests there is something happening.
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Ruth Anne Monti, author of North Korea in 100 Facts, has previously suggested Kim’s health is ailing and that he needed help with walking.
She told Express.co.uk today: “Kim is seriously unhealthy.
“He’s quite overweight, smokes, drinks, and keeps a very rich diet.
“This is certainly not a healthy lifestyle.”
Chang told reporters yesterday: “I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended.
“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.”
The speculation about his health follows reports of Kim’s regime having declared a bizarre “war on sex”.
The US-backed Radio Free Asia website earlier this month claimed six people – including four party officials – had been executed by firing squad after being accused of either pimping or buying sex at a public bathhouse popular among influential city residents.
One insider claimed Kim had given the order personally.