Kim Jong Un Month-Long Break From Public Appearances Due To COVID-19, Not Heart Surgery, Say South Korean Officials
Kim Jong Un’s near-month-long disappearance from public life fueled speculation that the North Korean leader was dead or dying from COVID-19. Then rumors followed that a heart surgery procedure had gone wrong, leaving the dictator in a serious state, or perhaps dead. Now, South Korean officials say there’s no evidence that Kim Jong Un underwent any type of surgery for heart health.
TMZ reported in late April that Kim Jong Un was rumored dead after a stent procedure went badly. However, accounts continued to conflict, and President Donald Trump, when asked, denied it. According to NBC, Trump said during a Rose Garden press conference that he had information on the North Korean leader’s well-being, but couldn’t share it at the time. However, the evasive statement seemed to imply, at minimum, that Kim Jong Un was alive.
Now South Korean officials are speaking out, with South Korea National Assembly member Kim Byung-kee saying that their National Intelligence Service could find no evidence that Kim Jong Un had undergone heart surgery, and that signs point to the disappearance being in part due to coronavirus concerns, according to The Hill.
The NIS assesses that at least he did not get any heart-related procedure or surgery. He was normally performing his duties when he was out of the public eye.
Kim reportedly ceased public appearances on April 11. Concern began to rise when he didn’t participate in a ceremony on April 15, celebrating his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s birthday. However, he resumed public activities on May 1, for a ceremony to celebrate the opening of a fertilizer plant, to all appearances healthy and prepared to carry on.