North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Saturday appeared in public for the first time in weeks, State News Agency (KCNA), reported, amid speculation that he might be sick or even dead.
North Korean media ran photographs showing the leader apparently attending a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, some 50 kilometres north of the capital Pyongyang.
According to the agency, Jong-Un was welcomed by thunderous cheers from the participants in the ceremony.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification confirmed the events, saying that “groundless reports about North Korea” had “caused unnecessary confusion for the economy, security and society.”
Ever since South Korea-based online Newspaper Daily NK reported in April that he had to undergo heart surgery, followed by his conspicuous absence from some key events, Korea watchers had been wondering about his fate.
U.S. President Donald Trump told newsmen when asked about the reports of Kim’s public appearance, “I’d rather not comment on it yet. We’ll have something to say about it at the appropriate time.
Kim had not been seen in public for about three weeks.
He was last seen attending a key party meeting in Pyongyang on April 11 and missed celebrations marking his late grandfather’s Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15.
In its over 1,500-word report on Saturday, KCNA did not address speculations about Kim’s health.
According to Yonhap, North Korean state media, Jong-Un expressed his appreciation to workers who built houses in the Northern city of Samjiyon.
However, the agency also noted that the North Korean report did not disclose his location or include any images.