Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung, made the sensational claims to South Korean media, according to the New York Post.
Chang suggested that Kim is 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.”
In a private meeting with lawmakers last week, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said that “Kim Yo-jong, the first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is steering overall state affairs on the delegation,” though Kim her brother still maintains “absolute authority.”
Still, doubt lingers as to the veracity of the diplomat’s claims. Nor was it the first time that Kim’s prolonged absence from the public spotlight has fueled speculation about his health.
In April, reports circulated that the leader of the Hermit Kingdom had had heart surgery after he was not seen in public for nearly three weeks. The North Korean government never explained Kim’s absence, including why he missed a commemoration that celebrated the 108th birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.
After a video was released showing Kim moving around during the completion of a fertilizer factory near Pyongyang, a South Korean government official told Fox News that “our government believes” there was no indication that a medical procedure had occurred.
Kim Jong-un partly delegated authority to sister
The power shift partly aims to “relieve (Kim’s) stress from his reign and avert culpability in the event of policy failure,” the agency said.
“Chairman Kim Jong-un is still maintaining his absolute authority, but some of it has been handed over little by little,” the agency said. It said, however, that this does not mean the leader has selected a successor.
According to the NIS, Yo-jong has assumed the majority of the authority delegated by the national leader, but she is not the only one who has shared power with him.
Pak Pong-ju, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and the new premier Kim Tok-hun have taken over power in controlling the economic sector, it added.
The NIS also said the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex is not currently in operation.
It also noted that the North Korean army’s summertime military exercises have been slashed by 25 to 65 percent from the past.