FACTCHECK: Is North Korea's Kim Jong-un dead?

Zainab Iwayemi


Claim: 

A report by REPORTGHANA, recopied by PHXFEEDS  has it that Kim Jong-un, North Korea's supreme leader is dead and that his sister Kim Yo-Jung would soon take over power. The report further added that the supreme leader is in a coma; a suggestion it claimed was an experts'

The lead of the story is quoted thus:

''NORTH KOREA’s leader Kim Jong-un IS dead, and it is just a matter of time before sister Kim Yo-jong is confirmed as his successor, an expert has suggested in the wake of reports the Supreme Leader is in a coma.''

A critical look into the statement reveals 3 different claims on the political state of the north Korea;

That the leader is no more, that his sister is soon to rule and that the leader is in coma. The last which contradict the initial statement of being dead. What we however do not understand is whether the writer was referring to the 'comatose' state as being dead.

The story based it's claims on the words of a journalist, Roy Calley, who has travelled the state extensively and the tweet of Chang song-min, a former aid to the south Korea's late president, Kim Dea-Jung. the report quoted Calley saying; ' “I honestly believe he’s dead but you just can’t tell with that country'

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The report was   concluded with the speculation of the journalist who assumed that history was repeating itself.

 “It was months before the population heard officially that the Dear Leader [Kim Jong-il, Kim’s father] had died and I’m guessing this is what is happening now.

“It will only be clarified and confirmed when his sister takes complete control as far as I see it.”

 It is pertinent to point out that this is the second time in 2020 which the same rumor has ensued. The first being April, but the rumour as at then folded up when Kim Jong-un believed to be dead, resurfaced.

Roundcheck findings:

For the second time, Kim Jong-un has defeated rumour surrounding his death when on Tuesday, 25th of August, He appeared in a meeting of a Politburo where he urged north Korean's authorities to be prepared for the threat of a looming typhoon and coronavirus; even though the state claimed it is yet to officially record any case.

BBC news reported that the at the meeting, the north Korean leader was smoking a cigarette; indicating he was sound in health,  while he hammered on the need for the state to redouble its effort in curbing the virus as well as discussed reality of the economy


Factors that  incited Kim Jong-un' death rumour

Clearly, all speculations around the death of the North Korean leader hasn't come to stay. Infact, within a period of five months, he has beaten death by zero to nil.

There are however certain factors which razed the spread of these wrong speculations like wild fire. Some of them includes:

Delegation of power to sister, Kim Yo-Jong:

On 20th of August, few hours after the National Intelligence Service, NIS briefing on the delegation of authority  to Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, leaving Mr Kim to oversee affairs of the state. many sensed something must have being wrong. Especially as the intelligence committee, North Korea's  spy agency specifically mentioned that the authority delegation wasn't related to his health. The agency further revealed the lamentation of the lawmakers on the fact that Kim Jong-un, although maintaining his absolute authority,  was gradually  handing over.

Kim Yo-jong's two absence from two important meetings: Recently, Ms Kim had missed two important gathering of the top party officials and this fact, has been coupled with others to birth the rumour of the death of Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un's Weight gain: 

The NIS reported in 2012 that Kim Jong-un weighed 90kg recently, this has been increased by by 30kg. The weight increament has paved way for different thoughts developing into headlines of sorts. Some of which ranges from assumption that the supreme leader was eating much in other to cope with fear of assassination to having adult disease, insomnia as well as excessive eating be able to cope with stress.

South Korea Chang Song-min's claims: after the announcement of the, the aid to the former south Korean president, Chang Song-min took to his Facebook account and expressing that Kim Jong-un had being in coma since April. He added that his public appearances since then has being faked by state authorities. this has raised a lot of dust causing people to speculate with little or no evidence.

Read more here or here


Conclusion:

Claim one: the claim by Reportghana that Kim Jong-un's north Korean supreme leader is not true. Kim Jong-un has made it obvious by making himself available for the Politburo meeting on Tuesday

Claim two: the second claim by Reportghana that Kim Yo-Jong would take his place is uncertain. Although Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-Jong seemingly share a close relationship, it has not been established anywhere that she would be succeed his brother. The BBC news noted

 ''The country's propaganda and political mythology has for decades stressed the so-called Paektu bloodline going back to state founder Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-un is believed to have children, but they are young.

Given that Ms Kim is a member of that bloodline, state media should find it easy to justify a transition of power into her hands. But that bloodline also means that were she not chosen, any new leader would see her as a dangerous rival.''

Claim three: the claim that Kim Jong-un is in a coma is misleading.  the claim is only a political gameplay by the south Korea's Chang song-min to Stir up political brouhaha.

All claims by Reportghana are false.


 All over the world, diverse stunts are played by politicians, news agencies, websites/blogs, social media, in order to; get attention, create a tense political atmosphere, cause fear in people, defame rivals... At roundcheck, we are committed to helping the world get rid of  fake new to make the world a better place.

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