North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance since speculation about his health began last month, cutting the ribbon at the opening of a fertilizer factory, KCNA reported Saturday.
Kim attended the event on Friday in Sunchon, near the capital Pyongyang, after nearly three weeks of swirling rumours that the leader of the nuclear-armed nation was seriously ill or possibly dead.
The North Korean leader had not made a public appearance since presiding over a Workers’ Party politburo meeting on April 11, and the following day state media reported that he had inspected fighter jets.
At Friday’s event, “all the participants broke into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!'” when Kim appeared, the Korean Central news agency reported.
He inspected the facility and was “briefed about the production processes,” the report said.
Kim “said with deep emotion” that his grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong Il “would be greatly pleased if they heard the news that the modern phosphatic fertilizer factory has been built,” it added.
Also in attendance were other senior officials, including his sister and close adviser, Kim Yo Jong. Photos from the ceremony were not immediately released.
Conjecture over Kim’s health had grown since his conspicuous no-show at April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather, the North’s founder — the most important day in the country’s political calendar.
His absence unleashed a series of unconfirmed reports over his condition, triggering global fears over the North’s nuclear arsenal — and who would succeed Kim were he unable to lead.
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 April 13, adding: “No suspicious movements have so far been detected.”
News Source: NDTV