Ending weeks of speculations behind the disappearance of North Korea's Supreme leader Kim Jong Un, the North Korea state media released a set of photos confirming that their leader is very much alive and well.
The photos showed Kim making a public appearance during the inauguration of a fertiliser factory near Pyongyang. Last seen on April 11, the North Korean dictator's absence from the highly touted public birthday celebrations of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and his grandfather, on April 15, an event which he has never missed since coming to power in 2011, fuelled the speculations of the tyrant being either gravely ill or dead.
Only photos and no videos released by KCNA
The photographs, aimed at proving that Kim Jong Un is alive, is the first official communique from the North Korean authorities, ever since the rumours about his health and death began floating.
According to AFP, the Kim's appearance could not be verified. In one of the pictures, Kim is seen strategically sitting below a banner with the date May 1, 2020, mentioned on the banner, directly above his head.
Raising doubts over the picture, CNN's Asia Correspondent Will Ripley tweeted: "Here's another state media photo claiming to show North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the fertiliser factory on Friday. He is conveniently framed below a banner with the date May 1. Let's see if they release video." The reporter further tweeted that the intelligence experts are analyzing the images as we speak. President Trump says he won't comment yet
Is Kim Jong Un photoshopped in the pictures?
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published several photos of a smiling Kim donning black, he cut a red ribbon and took a tour of the factory. The publication reported that thousands of workers, stood in lines at the massive complex, releasing balloons into the air. "The workers at the factory broke into "thunderous cheers" for Kim," reported the publication.
However, social media was soon to raise questions over the authenticity of the photos. One of the Twitter users also pointed out the discolouration error in the photo, saying: "Can someone explain what's going on with the green discoloration on the top of his hair that doesn't match the background behind him?"
Some users also suggested that it appears that Kim is photoshopped in the pictures released by KCNA. "Doesn't look real at all...you would think that it would be a better quality image...very blurry. I could make a meme with a better quality image...looks like every one of them has an aura around them," tweeted a user.
"Also you can see a lapel pin in the first photo and looks like it should be seen in the 2nd although it's close. He looks photo shopped in," mentioned another. The others also pointed out at the different hair length of Kim Yo Jong, sitting on the podium with her brother in one of the pictures.
In one of his tweets, Ripley also pointed at the presence of a green-coloured golf cart parked in the background in one of the photos. He tweeted that Kim used a buggy after his 2014 disappearance, which necessitated medical treatment for his leg.