01 May 2020
Seoul: A North Korea defector elected as a lawmaker in South Korea on Friday claimed he was "99 per cent" sure that Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-un died after surgery amid rising speculation over his health, according to a media report.
Unconfirmed reports about Kim's ill health have mounted since he has not appeared in public for nearly three weeks.
"I've wondered how long he could have endured after cardiovascular surgery. I've been informed that Kim died last weekend," Ji Seong-ho, who earned a proportional representation seat of a minor party in the April 15 elections, told Yonhap News Agency, adding that North Korea may make the related announcement this weekend.
"It is not 100 per cent certain, but I can say the possibility is 99 percent. North Korea is believed to be grappling with a complicated succession issue," he said.
Ji did not reveal the source of where he got his information and his claim cannot be verified independently, said the Yonhap News Agency report.
The lawmaker-elect said that Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North's leader, is likely to succeed him, as many experts have already speculated.
South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has reaffirmed that it has not detected any "unusual" signs in North Korea regarding Kim's health.