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Kim Jong Un Death Rumor Explodes On Twitter, Weibo (UPDATE)

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UPDATE 2: A senior U.S. official told CNN on Friday that there is no evidence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was assassinated in Beijing, China. "With that society you can never be 100% sure, but we just don't see any evidence of it," the unnamed official said, according to CNN. "It's a closed society, but at this point we do not believe it's true."

UPDATE 1: An unverified and apparently fake account bearing the BBC logo and the handle @BBCLiveNews has posted a misleading tweet: "Confirmed breaking news. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un assassinated. Updates to follow." As of 4 p.m., no major media outlets had confirmed the truth of this rumor.

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PREVIOUSLY: An unconfirmed rumor hit the web on Friday morning claiming that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was assassinated in Beijing, China.

According to Gawker, the rumors began on Chinese-language microblog Sina Weibo, the Chinese web equivalent of Twitter. Users credited "reliable sources" and said the incident took place at the North Korean embassy in Beijing.

Gawker also linked to a translated feed featuring posts about the rumor (via Google Translate), which you can view here.

The rumor also found its way over to Twitter, even climbing its way up the site's Trending Topics list prior to 1 p.m. on Friday.

Many on Twitter are skeptical of the rumor, as it was reported several hours ago on Weibo and at 1 p.m. apparently had not yet been confirmed by major Chinese media outlets.

According to a tweet from Christian May, a political consultant for MIPPR, an unusual number of cars were spotted outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing.

"Rumour of Kim Jong Un's death based on news that a host of blacked out cars have descended upon embassy in Beijing, where he was visiting," May tweeted.

The Atlantic Wire notes that Chinese journalist Joe Xu also mentioned in a tweet that many cars were seen outside the embassy.

However, Xu mentioned later that the assassination rumor may have been "set up" as a distraction from the media buzz surrounding well-known Chinese police officer Wang Lijun, who is reportedly under investigation after initiating unauthorized contact with the U.S. embassy in Chengdu, according to the International Business Times. Xu wrote that "Wang Lijun" has become a trending topic on Weibo.

On December 29 the AP reported that Kim Jong Un was named successor to the late Kim Jong Il, who had held power in North Korea since 1994.

Check out the slideshow below to see reactions from Twitter users who came across the rumor of Kim Jong Un's death on Friday.

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