Kim Jong-un is alive but is probably unable to walk or stand up, a high-profile North Korean defector and former diplomat claims amid rumours of his death and surgery.
Thae Yong-ho, an ex-diplomat for the rogue state who is now a South Korean politician, says the leader’s absence from the celebrations – known as the Day of the Sun – prove he is ill or injured.
He told CNN: “Kim Jong Un is not only the leader of North Korea, but he is the grandson of Kim Il-sung … to North Korean eyes it is really abnormal.
“I’m not quite sure whether he really had some surgery or whatever, but one thing is clear… he cannot stand up by himself or walk properly.”
Seoul and Washington have played down rumours that Kim is gravely ill or dead, but Thae said only the supreme leader’s family and closest aides would know the truth.
The dictator has not been seen in public since April 11 and this has sparked reports that he has died or is in a vegetative state following heart surgery.dead or seriously ill.
On April 15, he inexplicably missed a Day of the Sun celebration honouring his grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea.
His unprecedented absence sparked a wave of speculation about his health, and he has not been seen in public since.