Kim Jong Un: No Sign of Cardiac Surgery, According to South Korean Spy Agency

SEOUL: There is no indication that the North Korean leader received heart surgery when he disappeared from state media for three weeks, but he cut public activity due to concerns, the news agency reported Wednesday.

Kim attended the completion of a fertilizer plant, official media said on Saturday, the first report of its public appearance since April 11. His absence fueled a wave of speculation about his health and whereabouts, and a South Korean media outlet reported that Kim had undergone heart surgery.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a meeting with members of the parliamentary intelligence committee that the reports were unfounded, Yonhap said.

He normally performed his duties when he was out of public view, committee member Kim Byung-kee said.

But the lawmaker said Kim Jong Un only made 17 public appearances so far this year, compared to an average of 50 in previous years, which the NIS attributed to a possible coronavirus outbreak in North Korea.

North Korea has said it has no confirmed cases. South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, who oversees North Korean affairs, said Kim's public disappearance was not particularly unusual because the country had been taking strict measures to prevent an outbreak.

It cannot be ruled out that there is an outbreak in North Korea, lawmaker Kim Byung-kee said, according to Yonhap. Kim Jong Un had focused on consolidating internal affairs such as the military and party-state meetings, and concerns about the coronavirus have further limited his public activity.