In a closed-doors meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, South Korea's National Intelligence Service denied the rumors surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health condition.
After attending the meeting, Kim Byung-kee from the ruling Democratic Party, told reporters that the intelligence agency believes Kim Jong-un did not undergo any heart-related surgery, nor is he ill.
Instead, it is believed that the North Korean leader focused on his duties, with particular attention paid to overcoming COVID-19.
"The NIS reported that Kim Jong-un ran state affairs as normal whilst being out of the public eyeand focused on making decisions related to COVID-19 quarantine efforts, stabilizing market prices and maintaining military discipline."
The NIS says that Kim has appeared in public 17 times so far in 2020, the fewest ever, and a 66-percent fall on average compared to previous years.
Speculation surrounding Kim Jong-un's health stemmed from a 20-day public absence, including his non-attendance of an annual event on April 15thwhich celebrates the birthday of his late grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
Regarding COVID-19 in North Korea, the NIS told lawmakers that, despite Pyeongyang continuing to say it has no confirmed cases, they cannot rule out the possibility that it couldsince there had been active person-to-person contact with China until late January before the North closed its border.
NIS also say that North Korea is facing economic difficulties due to the pandemic, with the public hoarding daily necessities, and the prices of seasoning and sugar soaring.
"As for developments regarding any missile or nuclear activities in the North, the agency says it has not detected any unusual signs at either the Yongbyon Nuclear Complex, the Punggyeri Nuclear test site or the Dongchang-ri missile launch site."
Kim Mok-yeon, Arirang News.