PUBLISHED: 22:10, Fri, May 1, 2020 | UPDATED: 22:10, Fri, May 1, 2020
Kim Jong-un, 36, was absent from public ceremonies on the birth anniversary of his grandfather and founder of the country, Kim Il-sung. His unprecedented disappearance led to days of speculation in the international community over his health, whether he had died, and whether the nuclear-capable state was headed toward instability. North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho believes Pyongyang will announce that Kim is dead as soon as this weekend.
Ji Seong-ho told South Korea's Yonhap news agency: "I've wondered how long he could have endured after cardiovascular surgery. I've been informed that Kim died last weekend.
"It is not 100 percent certain, but I can say the possibility is 99 percent.
"North Korea is believed to be grappling with a complicated succession issue."
Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat, has also said the leader "can't stand himself or walk properly".
READ MORE: Kim Jong-un death rumours surge after claims he was gravely 'wounded'
Kim Jong-un missed celebrating his grandfather's birthday (Image: GETTY)
Kim Jong-un's sister is likely to take over if he is dead (Image: GETTY)
He noted the death of Kim Jong-il was kept a secret for two days and his Foreign Minister wasn't informed until an hour before the official statement.
Thae told CNN: "Kim Jong-un is not only the leader of North Korea, but he is the grandson of Kim Il-sung...to North Korean eyes it is really abnormal.
"I'm not quite sure whether he really had some surgery or whatever, but one thing is clear... he cannot stand up by himself or walk properly."
It comes as a