"And we also maintain a necessary readiness posture", it said. Ji was invited to U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address in 2018. This was his first public appearance since April 11th. Such apparent provocations, as well as Kim Jong-un's disappearance and reemergence, were characterized by analysts as attempts to refocus worldwide scrutiny on the country amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A US government source familiar with intelligence reporting said Washington strongly believes Mr. Kim is alive, but has not been able to confirm the photos were taken on Friday, or explain why he had not been seen for weeks.
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He was flanked by senior officials - including his sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong - and showed no outward signs of ill health.
Officials in South Korea and the United States have said Kim may have taken refuge from the coronavirus, and expressed scepticism about media reports that he had a serious illness.
Kim expressed satisfaction about the production system of the fertilizer factory, saying the plant made significant contribution for the progress of the country's chemical industry and food production, KCNA said.
What started speculation about his health?.
Mr Kim's conspicuous absence from the April 15 celebrations for the birthday of his grandfather, the North's founder, sparked feverish speculation over his health and who would replace him at the helm of the nuclear-armed country if his death was to happen.
The JCS added it was communicating with the North via their military hotline to determine the cause of the incident.
This led to a chain of reporting by worldwide media on a single-sourced story.
"I do think they're genuine, North Korea doesn't generally make up photos like this".
But then came a more sensational headline in USA media that the North Korean leader was in a critical condition after heart surgery.
"Have y'all seen the latest pics of Kim Jong Un?".
North Korean troops fired gunshots toward the South in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the peninsula on Sunday, prompting South Korean forces to fire back, Seoul said.
Right now, she says, there is no "heir apparent" for Kim Jong Un. The world experienced the same sort of uncertainty and alarm in 2014, when Kim disappeared from the public eye for around 40 days due to a surgery he received on his foot.
State media never explained where he had been.
South Korea suffered no casualties, the military said.
Fifield said that while some might accuse China of taking advantage of a vacuum in North Korea, it had many reasons to keep the region stable.
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