The reclusive despot made his first public appearance Saturday after a three-week absence during which intense speculation swirled about his health and the future of his rogue regime.
During that time, a South Korean news outlet reported that Kim was recovering from a heart procedure while CNN said American officials were monitoring intelligence he was “in grave danger” after surgery.
On Wednesday, members of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee said after a meeting with the National Intelligence Service that the reports were “groundless,” Reuters reported, citing the Yonhap news agency.
“The NIS assesses that at least he did not get any heart-related procedure or surgery,” committee member Kim Byung-kee told the media. “He was normally performing his duties when he was out of the public eye.”
He added: “At least there’s no heart-related health problem.”
But Kim Byung-kee noted that the leader made just 17 public appearances so far this year, compared with an average of 50 from previous years, which the NIS attributed to a possible coronavirus outbreak in the Hermit Kingdom.
“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,” he said.
“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,” the lawmaker added.