Back from the dead: Photos of Kim Jong Un’s public function on May 1

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After several health rumors, North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un has resurfaced in the public eye for the first time in almost three weeks. This was made known by the state media, following rumours  that he had been seriously ill after a heart surgery.

Kim opening a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, Pyongyang

KCNA, the state news agency published photographs of the supreme leader commissioning a fertilizer refinery in Sunchon, north of the capital Pyongyang.

KCNA said Kim, alongside other senior officials of the country, including his influential younger sister, Kim Yo-Jung cut a ribbon at a ceremony on Friday.

From the pictures, thousands of people attending the event appeared to be wearing face masks, released balloons and “broke into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the North Korean Leader,” the agency said.

Thousands of attendees at the event

The images showed the supreme leader smiling and talking to aides, as well as touring the plant. The authenticity of the photos, published on the website of the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, could not be immediately verified.

Donald Trump, who last week suggested the mystery surrounding Kim’s absence would be solved “soon”, refused to comment on the KCNA report. “We’ll have something to say about it at the appropriate time,” said Trump to reporters at the White House.

Kim Jung Un

The North Korean leader was last sighted in public on 11 April when he presided over a Workers’ party politburo meeting. State media published a single photograph of Kim for well over two weeks after that date, but carried reports of his daily routine, including diplomatic messages sent to other world leaders.

Speculation over his whereabouts gathered pace after he missed the 15 April commemoration of the birthday of his grandfather – and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung – which is the most important event in the country’s political calendar. It was the first time the younger sister had missed the event since becoming leader.

A day earlier, he was not present at the launch of several short-range missiles, despite having personally overseen similar launches in the past.

Rumours that the North Korean leader, who succeeded his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011, was seriously unwell began with a South Korean report claiming he had undergone a “cardiovascular procedure” at Hyangsan hospital near Pyongyang on 12 April and was recuperating at a villa in nearby Mount Myohyang.

Daily NK, a Seoul-based website with secret contacts in the North, claimed Kim’s health had deteriorated since last August due to heavy smoking, obesity and overwork. That report was followed by claims by an unnamed US official, quoted by CNN, that the Nation’s leader was “in grave danger”.

However, North Korean media did not offer an explanation for their Leader’s  absence in Saturday’s report.

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