The rumors of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s death appear to have been greatly exaggerated.
According to sources citing the oppressive regime’s state-run media, the 36-year-old ruler made his first public appearance in 20 days on Friday, arriving on an electric cart at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a fertilizer factory.
Kim was reportedly last seen in public at a meeting of the Workers Party on April 11, and rumors have since circulated widely about his health.
Some speculated that he was dead following his absence at the “Day of the Sun,” an annual celebration commemorating the birth of his grandfather, North Korean founding ruler Kim Il Sung.
During a press briefing last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that he knew Kim’s condition but refused to elaborate. After reports of the dictator’s appearance this week, Trump still declined to provide any details about where he had been for nearly three weeks or his condition, Fox News reported.
Hinting that the dictator had been ill, Trump went on to “wish him well” and said he hoped “everything is going to be fine.”
As photos published by NK News show, Kim appeared to have a dark mark on the inside of his arm that could indicate a catheter had been placed there as part of a medical procedure.
NEW from KCTV:
Here are some of the screengrabs from the footage, including Kim Jong Un walking around Sunchon Fertilizer Factory and attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) May 2, 2020
No official explanation
Despite the reports of his appearance, North Korean news sources gave no official reason for his previous absence.
At Friday’s event, Kim was reportedly seen talking and laughing with others in attendance before cutting the ribbon. The crowd, most of whom were clad in face masks, reportedly cheered thunderously for the leader.
Without details from sources close to Kim, reports have provided various speculative explanations for his disappearance. Some suggest he was simply in hiding because of the coronavirus outbreak, though the Kim regime had not acknowledged any outbreak in North Korea.
Another popular theory is that Kim underwent a surgical procedure on his heart.
Whatever the truth is, it appears that Kim has made it through and will be able to continue oppressing his people for some time to come.