Kim Jong-un was killed by an assassin at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, China, at least according to one of many varying reports on the Supreme Leader to hit the web on Friday.
News of Kim's death exploded onto Weibo, a hugely popular Chinese micro-blogging platform, and although the news was not confirmed elsewhere, the story gained traction among users and curious media outlets.
A Weibo user named Shidan's Sheep reported that Kim Jong-un has been shot dead adding that Sina Weibo can delete my posts all they want, I will keep posting.
Twitter death rumors are not uncommon. While they have focused primarily on aging stars, politicians such as Fidel Castro have become the targets of the trending attacks in recent months. Other celebrities who have died recently include Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, Ruby Dee, Bill Cosby, Aretha Franklin and Morgan Freeman.
Still, many Chinese netizens are taking the claim seriously. This is the report from Tianya.net, one of China's largest Internet forums:
It is reported that at 2012.2.10 2:45 (Beijing time), an unidentified person broke into North Korea leader Kim Jong-un's residence and shot him to death. The murderer was then killed by a bodyguard.
Around midday, a mass of cars were parked inside the Korean Embassy and the stream of vehicles coming in and out never stopped.
A resident who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time said he/she hasn't seen anything like this in the past two years, not even on the day when Kim Jong-il died.
More than 30 cars are now parked in there... Something is off. What's going on?
Although the rumor broke more than four hours ago, Kim Jong-un is still the number one search term on Weibo, with 383,200 searches. There were 86.5 percent more searches for Kim Jong-un then for the number two on Weibo's Top Search list, Happy Birthday Choi Siwon. Siwon is a popular South Korean actor and singer.
By 2 p.m. EST, there were nearly 1.2 million search results on Weibo for Kim Jung-un. However, that number dropped by about 6,000 results within an hour, indicating that Shidan's Sheep's claim that Weibo is deleting posts related to Kim is accurate.
True or False?
Despite the popularity of the Kim assassination rumor, many Weibo users caught a whiff of foul play.
Twitter has an even more vivid version of Kim Jong-un's assassination. According to Twitter, Kim Jong-un died in the Korean Embassy in Beijing ~~~ This is turning into a fiction story, said Weibo user ShiningWind.
Lijun Wang, Kim Jong-un. The end of the world is near... wrote user Tenny_DaiZai, making reference to the Chinese politician who was rumored to have sought asylum at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu earlier this week.
One person on Weibo even tried to explain the large number of cars in the embassy parking lot by claiming that there was a banquet being held.
Additionally, while it is hard to pinpoint Kim Jong-un's exact whereabouts, the North Korean leader spoke with teachers and students at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang on Thursday, according to the DPRK's Central News Agency.
When visiting our school, he tasted soy sauce and even touched the ground of the basketball court, afraid we may get injured. He is really our father, student Pak Un Hyok told the news agency.
Notably, news reports from Friday had yet to hit the English version of Korean Central News.
Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, 2011, but North Korean State did not report his passing until 51 hours later.