North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is not critically sick, nor has he undergone cardiac operation from the public eye during his recent absence, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers Wednesday.
“At least, it is suspected that Kim did not undergo surgery or a heart-related surgical operation,” Korea’s Democratic Party leading Rep. Kim Byung-kee told reporters after a closed-door congressional meeting with the National Intelligence Service. “It appears that the reason Kim chose to attend (an event) at a fertilizer plant in Sunchon as he was resuming activities after 20 days, indicates his emphasis to resolve the food issues and inject confidence on ‘self-reliance,’” the NIS was quoted as saying.
Conjecture regarding Kim’s wellbeing was rife after he skipped a function to celebrate the country’s most famous holiday, his late grandfather Kim Il-sung’s April 15 birthday anniversary, the North’s founding father, for the first time since he took over power in 2011.
His unusual absence triggered a storm of speculation, including claims that the leader of the North was either dead or in a vegetative condition after botched cardiovascular surgery. After a three-week-hiatus, Kim appeared at an opening ceremony for a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, north of the capital, Pyongyang, quashing the widespread health rumors.
With his recovery, talk over Kim’s wellbeing has not ceased, with some suggesting the likelihood of other surgical operations that he undertook. But the NIS said Kim had no cardiac issues, quoting doctors who claim it should require four to five weeks of recovery only with a mild operation. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NIS also did not rule out a virus outbreak in North Korea, despite the country insisting it is virus-free.