North Korea's Kim Jong Un makes first public appearance in 20 days: State media

North Korea's Kim Jong Un makes first public appearance in 20 days: State media

Kim Jong Un at Suchon fertiliser factory (1)
This picture taken on May 1, 2020 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 2, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the completed Suchon phosphate fertiliser factory in South Pyongan Province, North Korea. (Photo: STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

SEOUL: North Korea's state news agency KCNA said on Saturday (May 2) leader Kim Jong Un attended the completion of a fertiliser plant in a region north of the capital, Pyongyang, in the first report of his public activity since Apr 11.

Kim "attended the ceremony" on Friday and "all the participants broke into thunderous cheers of 'hurrah!'" when he appeared, the Korean Central News Agency said.

He also inspected the facility and was "briefed about the production processes," the report said.

Reuters said that it could not independently verify the KCNA report.

There has been speculation about his health after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on Apr 15. The day is a major holiday in North Korea and Kim as leader usually pays a visit to the mausoleum where his grandfather lies in state.

Kim Jong Un at Suchon fertiliser factory
This picture taken on May 1, 2020 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 2, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the completed Suchon phosphate fertiliser factory in South Pyongan Province, North Korea. (Photo: STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

Kim has not made a public appearance since presiding over a Workers' Party politburo meeting on Apr 11, and the following day state media reported on him inspecting fighter jets at an air defence unit.

READ: Satellite images of luxury boats further suggest North Korea's Kim at favoured villa: Experts

READ: Kim Jong Un may be trying to avoid coronavirus, says South Korea

A top security advisor to South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said less than a week ago that Kim was "alive and well," downplaying rumors that he was ill or incapacitated.

The advisor, Moon Chung-in, told CNN that Kim had been staying in Wonsan - a resort town in the east of North Korea - since Apr 13, adding: "No suspicious movements have so far been detected."

Daily NK, an online media outlet run mostly by North Korean defectors, has reported Kim was undergoing treatment after a cardiovascular procedure last month.

Citing an unidentified source inside the country, it said Kim, who is in his mid-30s, had needed urgent treatment due to heavy smoking, obesity and fatigue.

Soon afterwards, CNN reported that Washington was "monitoring intelligence" that Kim was in "grave danger" after undergoing surgery, quoting what it said was an anonymous US official.

US President Donald Trump appeared to confirm that Kim was alive earlier this week, but refused to comment on Friday about Kim's reported re-emergence.

Previous absences from the public eye on Kim's part have prompted speculation about his health.

Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il had been dead for two days before anyone outside the innermost circles of North Korean leadership was any the wiser.

In 2014, Kim Jong Un dropped out of sight for nearly six weeks before reappearing with a cane. Days later, South Korea said he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.

Source: Agencies/nh

Bookmark