North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was spotted in public on Friday, marking his first appearance in more than three weeks. The country's state-run media reported that Kim had visited a fertilizer factory, according to The BBC, which comes after weeks of speculation that the dictator may be dead following heart surgery gone wrong.
KCNA news agency reports that the North Korea leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertilizer factory, which was met by a crowd that "broke into thunderous cheers of hurrah." Kim hasn't been spotted in public since April 12, though it was his absence from the nation's most important holiday, the birth of founding father, Kim Il Sung, that prompted much of the speculation. However, these most recent reports from state media refuting the store were not able to be confirmed, as no photos were provided.
Kim's death was first reported on Saturday by a vice director at HKSTV, who cited a "very solid source" for confirmation. The report then took off on China's social media platform Weibo. HKSTV also reported that Chinese medical professionals had been allegedly rushed into North Korea o provide medical care to Kim. The Japanese magazine Shukan Gendai also ran a report detailing that a stent procedure on Kim allegedly went wrong.
However, those initial reports were quickly refuted, first by South Korea, then later confirmed by U.S. intelligence. President Donald Trump also spoke about the leader's rumored condition at a press conference on Monday. "Kim Jong-un? I can’t tell you exactly," Trump said. "Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can't talk about it now. 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."
While Kim's health wasn't known, it caused some panic-buying in the capital city of Pyongyang. Along with a disruption in the supply chain, helicopters hover low over the city while public transit has been significantly disrupted. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the dictator's condition sparked a renewed interest in the 2014 satire The Interview, featuring James Franco and Seth Rogen. It also inspired a few tweets about 2004's Team America: World Police, another satire where Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, played the film's nefarious villain.