He is widely thought to have suffered a stroke about a year ago, although there has never been official confirmation.

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Monday's report has renewed concerns about North Korea's leadership amid heightened tensions and increased political uncertainty in the region following Pyongyang's recent nuclear and missile tests.

Brian Myers, director of the International Studies department at South Korea's Dongseo University in Busan, said if true the report would explain the apparent marked decline in Kim's health and his recent hair loss.

He told Al Jazeera the report would confirm the impression that North Korea's recent provocations are to "maximise its military strength in the expectation of a very imminent period of instability".

"Kim has to expect the regime to be more vulnerable both to internal dissent and to American attack immediately after his death," he said.

'Regime security'

He said it was possible the North Korean leader was "looking some kind of military triumph that could put the regime's security on a firmer footing for whoever should happen to take over".

"Kim has to expect the regime to be more vulnerable both to internal dissent and to American attack immediately after his death"

Brian Myers,
director of International Studies at South Korea's Dongseo University

Last week North Korean television showed a Kim looking gaunt and limping slightly in a rare public appearance on July 8 at a memorial for his father and state founder, Kim Il-sung.

Kim's health is the subject of intense international attention since there has been no announcement to the outside world about who would succeed him.

Reports quoting South Korean intelligence say that Kim has nominated his youngest son Kim Jong-Un, 26, as his successor.

However, North Korea has made no official comment on the leadership succession.

Analysts have speculated that the North's recent escalation of its military activities is aimed at building internal support as Kim prepares for the succession.