News ID: 268517
Published: 0226 GMT May 02, 2020

North Korea's Kim reappears after weeks of speculation

North Korea's Kim reappears after weeks of speculation
KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/STR
North Korea said the pictures showed leader Kim Jong-un visiting a fertilizer factory on May 1, 2020.

North Korea's Kim Jong-un has made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks, state media reported Saturday, following intense speculation that the leader was seriously ill or possibly dead.

State television showed Kim walking, smiling broadly and smoking a cigarette at what the North said was the opening of a fertilizer factory on Friday in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, AFP reported.

Rumors about Kim's health have been swirling 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 triggered a series of fevered rumors and unconfirmed reports over his condition, while the United States and South Korea insisted they had no information to believe any of the conjecture was true.

Seoul reacted to Saturday's report by saying "groundless" speculation about Kim had caused "unnecessary confusion", calling for more careful consideration in future.

Kim's sudden death would have left Pyongyang facing an unplanned succession for the first time in its history and raised unanswered questions over who would succeed him and take over the North's nuclear arsenal.

China, the North's key diplomatic ally and main provider of trade and aid, is keen to maintain stability in its neighbor and avoid the possibility of an influx of refugees.

Footage on Saturday showed Kim in his trademark black suit, waving to hundreds of workers who cheered his appearance and released balloons.

He was flanked by senior officials – including his sister and close adviser Kim Yo-jong – and showed no outward signs of ill health.

 

   
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