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Is Kim Jong Un Dead? Japanese Media Reports He's In 'Vegetative State' After Stent Surgery

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Is Kim Jong Un Dead? Japanese Media Reports He's In 'Vegetative State' After Stent Surgery

Kim Jong Un has been both respected — and feared — by his North Korean constituency since he first assumed power back in 2011. As the First Supreme Leader of North Korea, he comes from a true political dynasty: his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, founded North Korea back in 1948, and he assumed the role of the First Supreme Leader from his father, Kim Jong-Il, who ruled North Korea from 1994 until his death in 2011. 

And while this isn't the first time that rumors about Kim Jong Un's demise have swirled on the Internet, it is the first time that Chinese doctors have been dispatched to North Korea to determine whether, in fact, he has died, as preliminary reports are suggesting.  

Is Kim Jong Un dead?

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Let's look at what we know about this situation. 

A preliminary report from China suggests that Kim Jong Un is dead. 

According to a preliminary report issued on a Beijing-backed television station in China, Kim Jong Un has, indeed, died

When asked about the situation, a senior White House official said that while they had, indeed, heard the rumors, they weren't in a position to officially comment on the matter. "While the US continues to monitor reports surrounding the health of the North Korean Supreme Leader, at this time, there is no confirmation from official channels that Kim Jong Un is deceased," the official said.

In the meantime, however, a Japanese report suggests that Kim Jong Un is in a "vegetative state" after having surgery to put a stent in his heart.

Kim Jong Un didn't attend a North Korean celebration today, further fueling the rumors that he is, in fact, dead. 

April 25th is considered a holiday in North Korea, as it celebrates the founding of the Korean Peoples' Revolutionary Army (KRPA). Kim Jong Un's absence from this nationwide event further fueled the rumors that he is, in fact, deceased.

As Coronavirus hits North Korea, some have speculated that Kim Jong Un contracted the disease.

The worldwide threat of Coronavirus continues to paralyze countries all over the world, and North Korea is no different. As rumors about Kim Jong Un's death continue to circulate on the Internet, his cause of presumed death is also speculated upon and naturally, rumors have cropped up that Kim Jong Un died from complications due to Coronavirus. However, there's nothing to confirm that this is, indeed, the case. 

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China has dispatched doctors to rule on Kim Jong Un's condition.

As of this writing, China has confirmed that they have dispatched doctors to officially rule on Kim Jong Un's condition, despite preliminary reports. Chinese officials have also noted that Kim Yo Jong — Kim Jong Un's sister — has been appearing in his place and stead at many official outings, which further leads to speculation about his demise (since, according to these officials, Kim Jong Un wouldn't relinquish power of North Korea without a fight). 

Rumors about his death cause "#KimJongUnDead" to become a trending topic on Twitter. 

It didn't take long for #KimJongUnDead to become a trending topic on Twitter, and naturally, Kim Jong Un's history of human rights violations and terrifying military dictatorship were ripe for the picking for the social media platform's meme makers. Check out some of the more popular ones below.

What we know for certain is that nobody truly knows what's happening in North Korea.

Because it is considered a "closed country," North Korea is often  hesitant to release any sort of official, confirmed reports to places where they have a notoriously difficult relationship (such as the United States). However, we will keep you posted on any developments that may come out of the country or U.S. intelligence. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.