South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday it has solved the mystery of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s 6-week public absence.
The National Intelligence Service told legislators that a foreign doctor operated on Kim to remove a cyst from his right ankle, according to Park Byeong-seok, an aide for opposition lawmaker Shin Kyung-min. The aide said the spy agency also told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that the cyst could recur because of Kim’s obesity, smoking and heavy public schedule.
The agency also said North Korea has expanded five of its political prisoner camps, including the Yodok camp, which was relocated to the northwest city of Kilchu, according to Lim Dae-seong, an aide to ruling party lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo, who also attended the briefing. The spy agency believes the camps hold about 100,000 prisoners, Lim said.
He said the agency also believes that North Korea recently used a firing squad to execute several people who had been close to Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was considered the country’s No. 2 power before his sudden purge and execution in December 2013.
South Korea’s spy agency had correctly predicted that Jang had been dismissed from his posts before North Korea officially announced his arrest.