Seoul’s spy agency has joined other state officials in dispelling rumors around North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s health, insisting there is no reason to believe he underwent a heart operation as speculation refuses to die down.
“Evidence for Kim Jong-un’s health abnormality is absent,” the National Intelligence Service said on Wednesday morning, according to Yonhap News, adding that it had seen “no signs of heart surgery.”
The rebuttal comes after three weeks of conjecture about the North Korean leader, who was rumored to be in grave condition after undergoing surgery, while other reports suggested he might be in a “vegetative state,” infected with Covid-19, or even dead. Though South Korea’s presidential Blue House had previously cast doubt on the claims, suggesting it had seen nothing out of the ordinary in terms of Kim’s health or activities, the leader’s reappearance in the public eye last week put some of the more extreme rumors to rest.
Despite the clear evidence that Kim was neither dead or severely ill, however, the media speculation mill continued to churn out reports stating he may have still undergone some form of surgery – some pointing to a “mysterious mark” on the leader’s arm, said to be a needle puncture. But Seoul apparently isn’t buying that version of the story either, with South Korean officials again throwing cold water on the gossip.
The Intelligence Service did note that Kim has appeared in public only 17 times so far in 2020, far fewer than the 50 or so appearances in previous years, but concluded the leader is most likely staying focused on domestic affairs, as well as the impact of Covid-19, though Pyongyang claims it hasn’t confirmed a single case of the virus within its borders.
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