Tokyo, July 10 (ANI): Kim Jong-il is seriously ill and is likely to be dead before the end of the year, The Telegraph quotes a source within the North Korean leader's own family, as saying.
The latest speculation over the health of the reclusive Kim has been triggered by his appearance on state television on Wednesday to mark the 15th anniversary of the death of Kim Il Sung, his father and the man revered as the founder of North Korea.
He looked gaunt, his hair thinned dramatically and he walked with a limp.
It is believed that 67-year-old Kim suffered a serious stroke in August 2008 and that his recovery has been delayed by long-standing diabetes and heart disease.
"He does not have all that much longer to live and my sources say the doctors' diagnosis is that he will die before the end of the year," Professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an expert on North Korean affairs at Waseda University, told the Daily Telegraph.
Similar reports on Kim's health have been reported in the United States, with an official telling The Washington Times that the government estimates he has a year to live.
There are suggestions that Kim Jong Un, his son, who was being groomed to take over as heir, may not now get the post.
According to Professor Shimada, China has refused to support Kim Jong Un's bid for power and is instead calling for Kim's younger half-brother, called Kim Hyong, to take over.
North Korea's unofficial spokesman in Japan has denied that the "Dear Leader" is unwell.(ANI)