North Korea's Kim appears in public amid health rumors

Sunday, 03 May, 2020

According to the news agency, the North Korean media do not mention the state of health of the DPRK leader and his whereabouts.

After a wave of news reports that North Korea's leader was gravely sick or even dead, Kim Jong Un has reportedly reappeared in public, for the first time in 21 days, at a fertilizer factory.

KCNA, North Korea's state news agency said on Saturday Kim attended the completion of a fertiliser plant in a region north of the capital, Pyongyang.

The KCNA said workers at the fertilizer factory broke into "thunderous cheers" for Kim, who it said is guiding the nation in a struggle to build a self-reliant economy in the face of "head wind" by "hostile forces".

Although it admits "we do not know exactly", the report adds, "he may have retired to his villa in Wonsan to rest".

He was accompanied by his sister Kim Yo-jong and several other officials.

U.S. President Donald Trump kept mum Friday when asked about the situation by reporters at the White House.

"We got a glimpse of the danger of loose nukes and worse if the death of Kim Jong-un had unleashed a destabilizing power struggle" in the North, where Mr. Kim had no designated adult heir in place, Mr. Russel said by email.

Reuters could not independently verify the KCNA report.

Reporting from inside the isolated North is notoriously hard, especially in connection with its leadership, which is among its most closely guarded secrets.

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Kim Jong Un was last seen on April 11.

Other candidates for succession include Kim's older brother, Kim Jong Chol, but given that he was passed over by their father for the succession in the first place, he may not be next in line now.

One Hong Kong broadcast network claimed he died, citing a "very solid source".

Rachel Lee, a former USA government North Korea analyst, told AFP that the past weeks had also shown the "insatiable appetite for news about the North Korean leadership".

Fair enough. But that doesn't mean the rumor mill when it comes to recent reports that Kim is either dead, brain dead, alive and well, injured by a missile test or reacting in some way to the Coronavirus pandemic is going to stop anytime soon.

There has been a lot of speculation about the health of the North Korean leader.

Ji is the latest to speak out saying that Kim might have died after heart surgery.