Kim Jong-un’s mystery disappearance solved as secret surgery revealed

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Earlier this year, Kim seemingly fell off the face of the Earth. It was a disappearing act of a kind not possible in the scrutinised Western world, where social media and deep-rooted democracy demand public representatives be present at all times.

Intense speculation over Kim’s whereabouts soon surfaced, with some botched theories going as far as to suggest he had died by some freak accident.

Reports by media outlets in April suggested the North Korean was seriously ill after heart surgery.

Headlines said things like Kim was “gravely ill”, “brain-dead” or was “recovering from an operation”.

Such grand claims were always going to be difficult to prove given the secrecy of the authoritarian regime.

They were apparently proven true when Kim failed to attend the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15 – one of the biggest events of the year marking the birth of the nation.

Some sense of order was restored, however, when the presidential office in Seoul assured that there had been no signs from North Korea to indicate Kim being “gravely ill”.

It is not the first time Kim has fallen from the West’s radar, though.

In 2014, frantic reports were filed after Kim had not been spotted for over a month.

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He was not seen in public between September 3 and October 14 – prompting calls that something sinister had happened.

Many outside the reclusive country even suggested he had been overthrown.

Shortly after October 14, Kim appeared, as if from a holiday, having lost weight, walking with a cane.

It was soon disseminated that Kim apparently underwent ankle surgery.

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[ANALYSIS] 

South Korea learned first of what had happened, then telling the rest of the world.

Its intelligence agency said a foreign doctor had removed a cyst from Kim’s right ankle.

The agency then, according to Time, told lawmakers about the procedure behind closed doors.

A similar absence occurred in 2016.

Here, attention was drawn to Kim missing the ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where other officials reportedly attended to pay respects to Kim II Sung.

After a speculative stint, Kim was spotted in public some days later, and so he continued about his leadership duties as if nothing had happened.

Today, the North has ramped up its opposition efforts against the outside world, and said it will cut off all inter-Korean communications lines with the South.

The North said this was the first in a series of planned actions.

It described South Korea as “the enemy”.

Daily calls between the countries will cease from Tuesday.

The line was initially set up in 2018 to reduce tensions and improve communications.

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