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Kim Jong Un did not undergo surgery, South Korean officials claim

Rumours have been circulating that the North Korean leader was seriously ill or may even have died.

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Kim Jong Un visits a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, South Pyongan province on May 1 (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP/PA)

Kim Jong Un visits a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, South Pyongan province on May 1 (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP/PA)

Kim Jong Un visits a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, South Pyongan province on May 1 (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP/PA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not undergo surgery or any other medical procedure, a South Korean official has said amid continued speculation about his health.

North Korea had said on Saturday that Mr Kim attended the completion of a fertiliser factory near Pyongyang on Friday, in his first public appearance in about 20 days.

While his re-emergence, captured on video footage released by North Korean state media, quelled intense rumours that he might be gravely ill or even have died, some media outlets and observers still raised questions about his health, citing moments when his walking looked a bit stiff at the factory.

A senior South Korean presidential official told reporters on Sunday that the government has determined that Mr Kim did not have surgery or any other procedure, according to the presidential Blue House.

When rumours about Mr Kim’s health surfaced in recent weeks, the South Korean government steadfastly dismissed them as baseless and maintained there were no unusual activities in the North.

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Kim Jong Un cuts a tape, watched by his sister Kim Yo Jong, during his visit to a fertiliser factory (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim Jong Un cuts a tape, watched by his sister Kim Yo Jong, during his visit to a fertiliser factory (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

AP

Kim Jong Un cuts a tape, watched by his sister Kim Yo Jong, during his visit to a fertiliser factory (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

It is not the first time Mr Kim has disappeared from public view for an extended period.

In 2014, when he reappeared after a six-week absence, he walked with a cane and used an electric cart.

The North Korea-provided footage on Saturday showed the 36-year-old riding an electric cart similar to the one he used in 2014, when he was reported to have an ankle injury.

In 2018, Mr Kim entered talks with President Donald Trump on the fate of his nuclear arsenal, but their diplomacy has been deadlocked in recent months.

Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday that “I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!”

PA Media