North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's six-week public absence left many people speculating about his health. However, South Korea's spy agency says it has solved the mystery.
According to the Irish Times, the South Korea National Intelligence Service told legislators that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his right ankle. In a closed-door briefing, it was also reported that the cyst could recur because of Mr Kim's obesity, smoking and heavy public schedule. However, it is unclear how exactly the spy agency obtained this information or if it is accurate.
The South Korea intelligence service doesn't have the best record when it comes to analyzing North Korea's affairs. Particularly, the agency has been harshly criticized when its director acknowledged that it had ignored intelligence indicating North Korea's impending shelling of a South Korean island in 2010. It also came under fire because of reports that it only learned of the 2011 death of then leader Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, more than two days after it occurred when North Korea's state media announced it to the world.
However, the agency recently made some moves that suggest intelligence is more refined in the region. The agency was able to report that North Korea was expanding prisoner camps, as well as saying that the country used a firing squad to execute several people who had close times to Kim Jong's uncle, Jang Song Thaek. Prior to being arrested and executed in December of last year, Kim's uncle was believed to be second in line to power.
The Star reports that the agency may be correct as Jong was first seen following his absence walking with a cane. Kim was featured in North Korea's leading newspaper smiling and walking with a cane after his absence as he toured the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District and another new institute. Before that appearance, Kim had last been seen in the media at a Sept. 3 concert.
Prior to his disappearance, archive footage showed Kim overweight and limping. The South Korean government saw no signs to indicate any major problems and said the issue was most likely minor. This follows suit with the newly discovered information which indicates, by all accounts, Un is mostly likely not suffering from a major illness or ailment. Instead, it appears a small cyst caused all of the media speculation and fuss.
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