North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly re-appeared in public, quashing weeks of speculation over his ill health and even death. Kim was far away from the public eye for three weeks, giving rise to wild speculations about his health. The silence of North Korean media had further bolstered these conjectures.
Three weeks after keeping mum, the North Korean state media released pictures of the reappearance of the supreme leader, putting to rest all the theories on his whereabouts.
Re-emergence of Kim Jong Un
After exactly twenty days of absence, Kim reappeared in public on Friday, May 1. The North's state news agency, KCNA, reported on Saturday, May 2, that Kim had attended the opening of a fertilizer factory at Sunchon, north of capital Pyongyang. He was pictured cutting the ribbon and his sister Kim Yo Jong, who was widely reported as chairman Kim's possible heir, was photographed alongside him.
When Kim came out at the ceremony, "all the participants broke into thunderous cheers of "hurrah!", KCNA reported.
Kim was last seen on April 11, at a Workers' Party politburo meeting. He remained absent from the 108th birth anniversary of his grandfather and founder of the country, Kim Il-sung. It was the first time since taking office in 2011 that Kim was absent from the most important event in North's political calendar.
Daily NK, an online media outlet run mostly by North Korean defectors, reported that Kim was unwell, following a cardiovascular surgery. This was followed by a CNN report that stated that chairman Kim was in grave danger. Several reports suggested his possible demise and that his sister Kim Yo Jong would be his successor.
Amid all these reports, while the North's media remained mum, South Korean media and authorities downplayed these reports. Late in April, South's presidential security advisor said that Kim was "alive and well" and staying in the eastern resort town of Wonsan. US President Trump, with whom Kim has had three summits, too downplayed reports about his ill health.
Past disappearance of the North Korean leader
In 2014, Kim was away from the public eye for six weeks, fueling speculations about his health. He re-emerged six weeks later, with a cane. South Korean media reported that he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.