Reports circulated that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un died or was in very poor health following complications from heart surgery on April 12. Kim was last publicly seen attending a Workers Party meeting on April 11. Now, some 20 days later, North Korean media claims the supreme leader has made his first public appearance.
Speculation grew after Kim missed one of the biggest events in North Korea on April 15, the birthday celebration of Kim's deceased grandfather, state founder Kim II Sung. It was the first time the leader had missed the event. NBC News reporter Katy Tur went so far as to report that Kim was brain dead in a tweet she subsequently deleted.
State-run media reports that Kim attended the completion ceremony of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, South Phyongan Province on Saturday. According to state-run media, the leader cut the ribbon in celebration of the factory's opening as onlookers burst into "thunderous cheers of 'hurrah!' for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity."
Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, was also reportedly in attendance. Jong is often cited as a potential successor in the event her brother is no longer able to rule.
Photos from the ribbon ceremony were not immediately released, but state media has since published photos of the leader seemingly in good health.
JUST IN: Photos of Kim Jong Un opening a fertilizer factory in Sunchon on May 1, according to KCNA. pic.twitter.com/jaLjjFk55K— Martyn Williams (@martyn_williams) May 1, 2020
It's been previously rumored that the leader had passed away or been overthrown, as in 2014 when Kim disappeared for six weeks. The North Korean leader is overweight and known to smoke.
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