North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is said to have fallen into a coma according to claims by South Korean diplomat Chang Song-min. The former aide to South Korea's late president Kim Dae-Jung said the leader has been in a coma for months and his recent public appearances have been faked.

Fox News reports said there were speculations that Kim Jong-un had fallen seriously ill and was observed to have had very limited public appearances this year. It was in April when rumours started to spread regarding Kim Jong-un's state of health. He was noticeably missing from important events after supposedly undergoing a botched heart surgery. The former aide now claims the leader has already been in a vegetative state since, and all his scheduled upcoming appearances were pre-recorded.

Speaking to South Korean media, Chang Song-min said "I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended."

In line with Chang's claims, South Korea's National Intelligence Service, said the 36-year-old leader has delegated his authority to a select few of his close aides which also includes his sister Kim Yo Jong, who is said to be strategically poised to take the reins from her brother.

"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.

During a closed-door meeting with lawmakers last week, South Korea's defence minister, Jeong Kyeong-doo said the leader's younger sister is in control of a Key Workers' Party unit and in charge of South Korea-US affairs. She may be steering all state affairs but her brother remains to be in absolute authority. Government funded Yonhap news agency reports said "the power shift merely seeks to relieve Kim Jong-un of the stress from his reign and avert culpability in the event of policy failure."

Although much doubt still hangs over the claims of the leader's state of health, there is still much to ask regarding his non-appearances. To this day, the North Korean government has not explained Kim's absences, including his no-show during the commemorative celebration of his late grandfather's 108th birthday.

North Korea's Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a fertilizer factory in a KCNA picture released on May 2, 2020 which appeared to confirm he was still alive, despite weeks of speculation. Photo: KCNA VIA KNS / STR