Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong UnReuters

Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina-R) said Saturday night that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is likely dead or in a vegetative state, amid rumors the 36-year-old leader fell into a coma after a botched heart operation.

Speaking on Fox News, Senator Graham said he would be “shocked” if Kim Jong Un were alive and well, arguing that if the North Korean leader were healthy enough to make a public appearance or statement, he would do so to dispel the rumors surrounding his condition.

“It’s a closed society. I haven’t heard anything directly, but I’ll be shocked if he’s not dead or in some incapacitated state because you don’t let rumors like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea,” Graham said.

Graham added that he hopes “the long-suffering North Korean people will get some relief if he is dead.”

“President Trump is willing to do business with North Korea in a win-win fashion. So if this guy is dead, I hope the guy who takes over will work with President Trump to make North Korea a better place for everybody.”

Rumors began circulating last week that Kim Jong Un was either dead or in a vegetative state, after it was reported that Kim was gravely ill with coronavirus following a heart surgery, though one South Korean official denied the report.

Quoting an unnamed member of the medical team, Japan’s Shukan Gendai said Kim's condition was due to the fact that the surgeon in charge of Kim's operation was unused to dealing with obese patients, and became nervous during the operation.

According to a report by HKSTV (Hong Kong Satellite Television), Kim is rumored to be dead. HKSTV's vice director said the report was based on a "very solid source."

Reuters on Friday reported that China dispatched a team including medical experts to North Korea, but the nature of the visit was not revealed.