Seoul, August 23: North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is "dead", said a Pyongyang expert while speaking to a leading UK daily. His claim came shortly after reports citing a former diplomat of South Korea said the autocratic leader is in coma. Kim's sister Kim Yo-Jong, in either case, is poised to take over the reigns, the reports added. NK News Agency Says Jong Un to Unveil New Economic Policy in January 2021.

But Roy Calley, a scribe who has spent a considerable period of time in North Korea and also a wrote a book based on his journalistic experience, told the Express UK that Kim has died but the level of secrecy in Pyongyang would not allow the news to be disseminated.

"I honestly believe he's dead but you just can't tell with that country," Calley, the author of Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World told the British newspaper. He claimed that the news could be confirmed once the power is completely transferred to Kim's sister Yo-Jong.

A day earlier, Chang Song-min - the former aide of late South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung - said he has learnt from top sources that Kim is in coma. He is bedridden and unable to discharge any of his duties, he said, adding that this is the reason why some powers have already been transferred to his sister.

"I assess him to be 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,” Chang said in a post on social media.

Kim, 36, had taken over the regime of North Korea in 2011 after his father Kim Jong-Il had died. His sister, now aged 32, drew international headlines after her visit to South Korea as part of the official delegation accompanying the Pyongyang in Winter Olympics, had succeeded in breaking the ice between the warring neighbours.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 23, 2020 10:37 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website