A state media outlet in North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance in 20 days amid rumours about his health.
The Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that he attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory in Suncheon, near the capital of Pyongyang, with other senior officials, including his sister, Kim Yo-jong.
Kim Jong-un had been last seen during a ruling party meeting on April 11 to discuss coronavirus prevention. Speculation about his health swirled after he missed the April 15 celebration of the birthday of his late grandfather and state founder, Kim Il-sung, the country’s most important holiday.
Without publishing images, state media reported he was carrying out routine activities outside public view, such as sending greetings to the leaders of Syria, Cuba and South Africa and expressing gratitude to workers building tourist facilities in the coastal town of Wonsan, where some speculated he was staying.
South Korea’s government, which has a mixed record of tracking Pyongyang’s ruling elite, repeatedly downplayed speculation that Kim, believed to be 36, was in poor health following surgery.
The office of President Moon Jae-in said it detected no unusual signs in North Korea or any emergency reaction by the country’s ruling party, military and cabinet. It said it believed Kim was still managing state affairs but staying at an unspecified location outside Pyongyang.
In 2014, Kim vanished from the public eye for nearly six weeks and then reappeared with a cane. South Korea’s spy agency said he had a cyst removed from his ankle.