North Korean state media reported Friday that leader Kim Jong-un made his first public appearance in weeks, following days of rumors and speculation about his health. The Korean Central News Agency (KNCA) later released photos claiming to show Kim at the opening of a fertilizer factor in the city of Sunchon to mark May Day. This was the first time Kim had been seen since April 11.
The photos released by KNCA show Kim cutting a ribbon to officially open the factory with other officials. Other pictures show him smiling. "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Cuts Tape For Completion Of Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory," read a headline from the news agency, reports CNN, which could not independently verify the report. The agency's report said Kim was part of a "completion ceremony of the factory" to mark "the international holiday of the working people of the whole world."
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
Kim was last seen on April 11 at a politburo meeting with Workers' Party leaders. On April 15, he missed a special ceremony marking the birthday of his grandfather, the country's founder, Kim Il-sung. Afterward, speculation about his health began, as there were reports Kim had a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12 due to "excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork." On Saturday, Reuters reported China sent a delegation of officials and doctors to advise on Kim's condition. CNN also reported Kim was in "grave danger." There was also a report from a Hong Kong media outlet that Kim died.
On Sunday, South Korean officials said they saw no evidence to support Kim was dead. "Our government position is firm," Chung-in Moon, foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told Fox News. "Kim Jong-un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected."
During Monday's press conference on the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump could not give details on Kim's health. "Kim Jong-un? I can't tell you exactly. Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can't talk about it now," Trump said when asked about the North Korean leader. "I just wish him well... I hope he's fine. I do know how he's doing, relatively speaking. We will see. You will probably be hearing in the not-too-distant future."