Kim Kyung-hui, aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and wife of recently purged No. 2 man Jang Song-thaek, is reportedly in a near vegetative state after undergoing brain surgery, a local newspaper said Thursday.
“According to a reliable source, Kim Kyung-hui had surgery for a brain tumor in Paris last year,” an unnamed U.S. official was quoted as saying.
The unnamed source said that Kim remains in a critical condition, citing her low weight, 35 kilograms.
Earlier on Wednesday, Yonhap News reported that Kim’s health had deteriorated, citing a South Korean diplomatic source, mainly due to her alcohol addiction and heart problems.
Kim, the younger sister of the late leader Kim Jong-il, has reportedly led a depressing life, following her daughter’s suicide and persistent clashes with her now-executed husband Jang.
“The couple argued a lot after the suicide of their daughter. Kim’s reliance on alcohol has escalated since then,” the source was further quoted as saying.
Following the shocking execution of her husband, Kim has not been in the public since September, when she watched a music performance with Kim Jong-un and his wife.
Despite Kim’s protracted absence from the public eye, she has been said to be safe and still maintains her political clout as she was put on a list of top officials to attend a state funeral for senior Workers’ Party official Kim Kuk-thae, who died on Dec. 13.
By Ock Hyun-ju, Intern reporter