Kim did not have heart surgery, says Seoul
There are no signs North Korean leader Kim Jong-un received heart surgery when he disappeared from state media for three weeks, but he reduced public activity because of coronavirus concerns, South Korean lawmakers briefed by the spy agency said on Wednesday.
Kim attended the completion of a fertiliser plant, North Korea’s official media said on Saturday, the first report of his appearing in public since April 11.
His absence fuelled a flurry of speculation about his health and whereabouts, with a South Korean news outlet reporting Kim was recovering from a cardiovascular procedure while CNN said US officials were monitoring intelligence he was “in grave danger” after surgery.
Members of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee said after a meeting with the National Intelligence Service (NIS) that the reports were “groundless”.
“The NIS assesses that at least he did not get any heart-related procedure or surgery,” committee member Kim Byung-kee told reporters. “He was normally performing his duties when he was out of the public eye.”
“At least there’s no heart-related health problem.”
But the lawmaker said Kim only made 17 public appearances so far this year, compared with an average of 50 from previous years, which the NIS ascribed to a possible coronavirus outbreak in North Korea. “Kim Jong-un had focused on consolidating internal affairs such as military forces.”