Kim Kyong-hui, the wife of executed North Korean eminence grise Jang Song-taek, and aunt of leader Kim Jong-un, has had long-term treatment in Russia for heart problems but her health apparently continues to deteriorate, sources claim.
A source in Beijing said Kim was in Russia for some 40 days due to heart problems and returned to Pyongyang last month. The source added Kim's condition is "serious."
Her brother, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and father, nation founder Kim Il-sung, both died of heart attacks, making it likely that the disease is genetic.
Kim is apparently too ill to even recognize people. This could mean that her husband was executed without her knowledge.
She is believed to have been a staunch supporter of Kim Jong-un, and her death could weaken this support base even further.
Meanwhile, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ui-do said rumors of a high-ranking North Korean official defecting to China was "clearly inaccurate."