North Korean state media released new photos of leader Kim Jong-un, reporting that he was at the opening of a fertilizer factory on Friday to mark May Day. This was his first public appearance since April 11, when he attended a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party leaders. However, considering the lack of access to North Korea, many on the web were skeptical of the photos.
On Friday, the Korean Central News Agency reported Kim attended a "completion ceremony" at the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory in the city of Sunchon to mark the "international holiday of the working people of the whole world." Photos later surfaced, showing him cutting a ribbon and another of him laughing with party leaders. Another photo showed Kim sitting under a banner with the date May 1, 2020 on it.
Kim missed a ceremony marking the birthday of his grandfather, the country's founder Kim Il-sung, on April 15, which set off a flurry of speculation about his health. Daily NK, a South Korean website that covers North Korea, reported Kim had a cardiovascular system procedure on April 12 due to various health issues. Subsequent reports suggested the procedure did not go well, with reports claiming Kim was in a vegetative state or even died. On Tuesday, CNN reported that the U.S. was keeping an eye on intelligence that Kim was in "grave danger." Sources told Reuters Saturday a team of Chinese officials and doctors were sent to North Korea to advise on Kim's situation. None of the rumors could be independently verified by Western media.
Fertilizer plant? Seriously? LMAO— ChuckGregory (@TheChuckGregory) May 1, 2020
On Sunday, South Korean officials said their intelligence showed Kim was doing well. "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."
Sunchon is interesting: site of a missile launch event last fall, and the fertilizer plant may have an interesting dual purpose. https://t.co/HbYBvNS9mI— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) May 1, 2020
North Korean media did not say where Kim has been for the past 21 days and it is unlikely to. This was not the first time Kim has disappeared from the limelight. In 2014, he was not seen in public for five weeks, sparking speculation he suffered from gout or was overthrown, notes Vox. When he reappeared, there was no explanation where he was. Kim was also disappeared from view between Jan. 26 and Feb. 16, and March 11 and April 10, reports The New York Times.
Here’s another state media photo claiming to show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the fertilizer factory on Friday. He is conveniently framed below a banner with the date May 1. Let’s see if they release video. pic.twitter.com/xmvqd7UCFi— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) May 1, 2020
According to the BBC Kim Jong Un may be alive.
“The latest reports from North Korean media could not be independently confirmed.”May 2, 2020