North Korea has released images of Kim Jong Un making his first public appearance in more than three weeks, seemingly quashing speculation that he was gravely ill or even dead.
In videos and photos released by the Korean Central News Agency, official state media of the hermit kingdom, Kim was shown attending a ceremony opening a fertilizer factory near Pyongyang.
He was pictured alongside senior officials, as well as his sister Kim Yo Jong, who experts have identified as Kim’s likely successor if he was to become incapacitated. The pictures were accompanied by a typically fawning report from KCNA, which claimed workers at the factory broke into “thunderous cheers” for Kim.
Speculation has been swirling about Kim’s health since he missed the April 15 birthday celebration for Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and the founder of North Korea.
The Daily NK, a Seoul-based publication that bases most of its reports on testimony from North Korean defectors and other sources inside the country, reported the secretive leader was recovering from surgery at a coastal luxury resort. It reported Friday that “had something wrong healthwise due to either excessive drinking or overwork.”