Kim Jong-un was just hiding away from coronavirus and wasn’t remotely unwell, South Korean spy agency says – The Sun
KIM Jong-un was just hiding from the coronavirus and did not have heart surgery, South Korea has claimed.
North Korea's secretive leader reappeared for the first time in 20 days last week amid swirling rumours about his health.
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Even as Kim appeared well and walking under his own power, some speculated he may have actually undergone some kind of procedure – pointing to a "needle mark" on his wrist.
But now South Korea's spy agency the National Intelligence Committee has claimed reports of his ill health were "groundless".
Spooks insisted he has also been performing his normal duties during his time away from the spotlight.
Committee member Kim Byung-kee blamed Kim's absence on fears over the coronavirus.
Spy chief Mr Kim said: "Kim Jong-un had focused on consolidating internal affairs such as military forces and party-state meetings, and coronavirus concerns have further limited his public activity.
"Though North Korea maintains it has zero cases, it cannot be ruled out that there is an outbreak there given they had active people-to-people exchanges with China before closing the border in late January."
It has previously been reported that the North Korean leader left Pyongyang to stay at his luxurious beach retreat in Wonsan because of the outbreak.
Other rumours had stated some of Kim's inner circle had contracted the killer virus, prompting his flight from the capital into seclusion.
North Korea however insists it still has zero cases of the coronavirus, which if true would make it one of the few nations in world untouched by the pandemic.
Rumours about Kim's failing health suggested was either gravely ill, or perhaps even dead – with his sister Kim Yo-jong poised to take over North Korea.
North Korea shares a large land border with China, and is highly reliant on trade with the country – so it it suspected it is unlikely North Korea has been left untouched by Covid-19.
South Korea's unification minister Kim Yeon-chul said Kim's disappearence was not unusual amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Reports have stated there has been panic buying in Pyongyang as North Korean authorities closed the borders to prevent the spread of the virus.
Other reports have said there have been deaths in North Korea, but without any admissions from the state it is almost impossible to know for sure.
Meanwhile, Kim's reappearance continued to spark rumours – with the leader opting to dodge a key event as Russia awarded him a medal to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
Some have even suggested that the Kim who reappeared on May 2 was not the same Kim – with the wild theory claiming he was instead a body double.
Concern over his health began when he failed to appear at an important celebration on April 15 to mark the birthday of Kim Il-sung, his grandad and the founder of North Korea.
Kim is believed to not be a well man as he is reported to be a prolific binge eater, heavy drinker and chain smoker.
His family also have a history of cardiovascular problems, with both his granddad and dad Kim Jong-il being killed by heart attacks.
The scare provided experts with a reason to speculate about what will happen when Kim dies, with no obvious successor to his throne.
Some have even speculated that Kim may have staged his own disappearance in a bid to root out traitors among his inner circle and secure his rule.
Kim's re-emergence however came as a blow to the credibility of some high-profile defectors from the North who had speculated that Kim was suffering from a grave illness.
One of the defectors, Thae Yong-ho, who was North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain, apologised for incorrectly saying the leader was likely so ill he couldn't stand up.
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