Kim Jong Un, the 36-year-old leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) dispelled weeks of Western rumors that he had died or been overthrown, appearing at a public ceremony on April 30 in the industrial city of Sunchon.
Citing a report by Chosun Central Broadcasting, a DPRK state television station, Seoul-based Yonhap reported early Saturday morning that on Thursday, Kim attended the completion ceremony of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, an industrial city of roughly 300,000 just north of Pyongyang.
NEW photos of Kim Jong Un:
KJU was reported to have attended a ribbon cutting event at the Sunchon fertilizer factory to mark May 1’s International Labor Day, making it his first public appearance in state media in 21 days. https://t.co/LAeDR8b2DE pic.twitter.com/0FBVlUWgZF
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) May 1, 2020
“Our party, the Supreme Commander of the People’s Republic of Korea, and comrade Kim Jong Un, the leading leader of the country’s armed forces, attended the completion ceremony,” the report continued.
Photos shared from Korea Central News Agency show Kim cutting a ceremonial red ribbon at the factory, flanked by his sister, Kim Yo Jong; Pak Pong Ju, vice chairman of the Korean Workers Party Central Committee; and Premier Kim Jae Ryong, as well as other officials.
When reporters asked US President Donald Trump about Kim’s surfacing, he reportedly said he didn’t want to talk about it.
The socialist leader’s re-emergence following death rumors makes him only the latest in a very long line of Korean figures rumored to have been killed in the DPRK, only to emerge later without any seeming ill effect.
Kim’s absence from the public spotlight for several weeks helped fuel rumors he was either dead or badly ill. On April 21, an unidentified US official told CNN Kim was recovering from surgery and that his life was in “grave danger.” While some observers had noted Kim’s absence from public events, including commemoration of his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s birthday, the report drove rumors in the West of Kim’s demise.
However, South Korean officials, as well as US military staff, never officially worried about the socialist leader’s wellness. In fact, a US bomber drill was staged off the coast of the North Korean city of Wonsan, where Kim was believed to be convalescing, earlier this week.