[splco_heading size=”15″ align=”left” margin=”30″]Reuters SEOUL, South Korea reported of North’s state news media reported news in Saturday.[/splco_heading]
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, resurfaced in public view on Friday, controverting three weeks of rumors and unconfirmed news reports that he was in grave danger after he underwent heart surgery.
He appeared at a ceremony at a factory in the city of Sunchon, the North’s state news agency said, later releasing photos from the event. The report could not immediately be independently confirmed. In this photo his sister, Kim Yo-jong, seen in the background.
North Korean Primere Kim, 36, had last appeared publicly on April 11.
Speculation about his health and about who would take over the hermetic, nuclear-armed country should he become incapacitated or die began swirling after Mr. Kim missed the state celebrations of his country’s biggest holiday on April 15. On that day, the North marks the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder.
Rumors subsequently went into overdrive, claiming that Mr. Kim was “in grave danger,” in a “vegetative state” after botched heart-valve surgery, or in quarantine after contracting Covid-19. Other reports said that China had sent doctors to Pyongyang to save him.
After its initial report on Saturday, the North Korean news agency released photos showing a smiling Mr. Kim applauding, cutting a ribbon and standing with his hands behind his back at a new fertilizer factory.
“All the participants again burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah,’” the news agency said, taking its characteristically fulsome tone for coverage of the leader.
It said that Mr. Kim “warmly acknowledged the builders and masses raising thunderous cheers” and went on to tour the factory, accompanied by senior officials from the ruling Workers’ Party, including his only sister, Kim Yo-jong.
Although no outside media was apparently allowed to witness the ceremony, the report by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency followed a familiar pattern.
State media typically reports Mr. Kim’s public appearances a day after they take place, carrying photos from the scene as well.
Amid the reports, North Korea had continued to send out letters and gifts to foreign leaders and domestic workers under Mr. Kim’s name.
But until Saturday, it had gone weeks without reporting any public appearances by its leader or responding to the speculation about his health, and its silence fueled the rumor mill.