North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is not believed to have received surgery, a senior South Korean official said Sunday, a day after Kim’s reappearance following a near three-week absence that triggered intense speculation about his health.

“Chairman Kim is not believed to have received surgery,” an unnamed senior official at the South’s presidential office said, according to Yonhap news agency.

“There were media reports speculating about Kim’s surgery, citing a change in the way he walks,” the official added, saying Seoul had enough grounds to draw the conclusion.

Rumors about Kim’s health have been swirling since his conspicuous no-show at April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather, the North’s founder — the most important day in the country’s political calendar.

His absence triggered a series of fevered rumors and unconfirmed reports over his condition, while the United States and South Korea insisted they had no information to believe any of the conjecture was true.

North Korean state television showed Kim walking, smiling broadly and smoking a cigarette at what it said was the opening of a fertilizer factory on Friday.


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