Daily US Times: For the first time in 20 days, North Korean ‘supreme leader’ Kim Jong-un appeared in public, the country’s state media says.
KCNA news agency reports and broadcasts a photo that the North Korean leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory.
When Mr Kim appeared on Friday, people at the factory “broke into thunderous cheers of hurrah”, KCNA adds.
The North Korean leader was seen last time in public on 12 April and he did not attend his grandfather’s birthday celebration a few days later, which sparked speculation about his health. His reported appearance comes amid global speculation over his health.
The state media reports could not be independently verified.
US President Donald Trump told reporters that he didn’t want to comment yet, when being asked Kim’s reported reappearance.
What does the state media say?
Mr Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo Jong, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
KCNA says the leader cut a ribbon at a ceremony at the plant which is located in a region of north of Pyongyang and people who were attending the event “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’.
The state media said Mr Kim said he was satisfied with the factory’s production system, and praised it for contributing to the progress of the country’s chemical industry and food production.
What sparked speculation about his health?
Speculation about Mr Kim’s health began after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of his grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung on 15 April.
This is very very rare for him as it is one of the country’s biggest celebrations and he attended the ceremony every year. He never missed the event.
Rumors and speculations further sparked about Mr Kim’s ill-health when in a report of Daily NK surfaced.
An anonymous source told the Daily NK, the website focuses on North Korean affairs closely, that they understood he had been struggling with cardiovascular problems since last August “but it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu”.
This led to a chain of reporting by international media on a single-sourced story.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said on Thursday that US officials “haven’t seen” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently. He also said the US is watching reports about his health “closely”.
Mr Pompeo also expressed concern that the hermit state could be hit either famine or by the coronavirus outbreak.
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