North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 36, may or may not be on his deathbed, according to several media reports across the US and South Korea.
On Tuesday, several conflicting accounts about Kim’s status emerged, raising the possibility that the young dictator could be incapacitated or die without a clear successor to his regime, which has overseen some of the world’s worst human rights offences.
Here’s what we know – and don’t know – about Kim’s health right now.
The US is monitoring his health, which may be in critical condition
Sources familiar with the intelligence told CNN that US officials are closely monitoring reports that Kim’s health is quickly deteriorating.
The intelligence suggests he may be “in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery,” CNN reported on Tuesday after speaking with four sources, one of whom said the severity of Kim’s illness is hard to assess.
In a tweet, MSNBC’s Katy Tur said that Kim was brain dead after slipping into a coma, citing CNN and MSNBC. She later deleted the tweet “out of an abundance of caution” and said she was waiting on more information.
While one official told CNN the evidence does not yet suggest that Kim is incapacitated, other officials told NBC News that there’s evidence he is.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien has only confirmed that the US is “keeping a close eye” on reports about Kim’s health, saying Tuesday on Fox News that the US is “monitoring these reports very closely.”
He’s been missing from the public eye since a reported procedure
Antennas went up when Kim did not make an appearance at the Day of the Sun celebration, an annual commemoration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15. It’s considered the most important day on North Korea’s calendar and brings out crowds in the tens of thousands. Since ascending to power in 2012, Kim had never missed the…