London, Oct.18 : North Korean leader Kim Jong -il maybe dead.
According to The Telegraph, North Korean diplomats abroad have been ordered to stay close to their embassies and await an "important announcement" concerning Kim Jong-Il.
The rumours circulating that Kim is dead have caused instability in North Korea's diplomatic corps, and the announcement may very well be a carefully worded instruction to remain loyal to the regime or have the diplomats' families still in North Korea face the consequences.
An announcement is expected within the next two days, but Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Waseda University, believes it may not be related to Kim's health.
"If he was dead, the North Koreans would have sealed the borders and not be letting anyone in or out, just as they did when his father, Kim Il-sung, died," he said.
Professor Shigemura's contacts have told him that a family of high-ranking North Korean diplomats have defected and are seeking asylum.
"I understand that they were based in China but that they may have got to the United States," he said.
"At the moment, the North Korean authorities are trying to find them but also want to stop any others from defecting."
Kim Myong Chol, as executive director of the Center for U.S.-North Korea Peace the mouthpiece for Pyongyang, played down the importance of the report, describing the report in the Yomiuri newspaper as "unfounded."