China sends medical staff to North Korea after Japanese media claims dictator Kim Jong Un is in a vegetative state after heart surgery

China has reportedly sent a team of medical personnel to North Korea to advise on leader Kim Jong Un amid conflicting reports about his health.

Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s condition.

On Friday, the weekly Shukan Gendai in Japan reported the dictator is currently in a ‘vegetative state’ after having heart surgery earlier in the month.

It claimed a Chinese medic is part of the team and has been sent to treat Kim Jong Un after a delay in a simple heart procedure had left the leader severely ill.

While there is no official evidence the dictator is dead, the hashtag #KimJongUndead was trending on twitter on Friday following the report.

A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, two sources close to the situation said. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighbouring North Korea.

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Lizzie Day