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S. Korea Spy Agency: North Korea Leader Had Ankle Surgery

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides a takeoff and landing drill conducted by fighter pilots of Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.

What caused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to begin walking with a cane earlier this month? Ankle surgery, says South Korea's spy agency, as reported by Yonhap news agency on Tuesday.

Kim’s six-week absence from public events set off a frenzy of wild speculation around the world, from serious health issues to a possible coup.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korean legislators that a foreign doctor flew to the counrty and operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his ankle, said Park Byeong-seok, an aide for opposition lawmaker Shin Kyung-min.

The NIS’s report also suggested the cyst would recur due to Kim’s health – he is obese and a heavy smoker – and his heavy public schedule, Park said the legislators were told.

Kim was last seen attending a music concert with his wife on September 3. But photos of him in public reappeared on October 14, showing Kim, using a cane, conducting a series of inspections of new residential complexes in Pyongyang.

It wasn't immediately clear how the information was obtained by the spy agency, which has a spotty track record of analyzing developments in opaque North Korea, The Associated Press reported.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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