Kim Jong-un Resurfaces, State Media Says, After Weeks of Health Rumors


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s chief, Kim Jong-un, resurfaced in public view on Friday, the North’s state information media reported Saturday, controverting three weeks of rumors and unconfirmed information reviews that he was in grave hazard after present process coronary heart surgical procedure.

He appeared at a ceremony at a manufacturing unit within the metropolis of Sunchon, the North’s state information company stated, later releasing pictures from the occasion. The report couldn’t instantly be independently confirmed.

Mr. Kim, 36, had final appeared publicly on April 11. Speculation about his well being — and about who would take over the airtight, nuclear-armed nation ought to he turn out to be incapacitated or die — started swirling after Mr. Kim missed the state celebrations of his nation’s largest vacation on April 15. On that day, the North marks the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder.

After its initial report on Saturday, the North Korean news agency released photos showing a smiling Mr. Kim applauding, cutting a ribbon and standing with his hands behind his back at a new fertilizer factory.

“All the participants again burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah,’” the news agency said, taking its characteristically fulsome tone for coverage of the leader. It said that Mr. Kim “warmly acknowledged the builders and masses raising thunderous cheers” and went on to tour the factory, accompanied by senior officials from the ruling Workers’ Party, including his only sister, Kim Yo-jong.

Although no outside media was apparently allowed to witness the ceremony, the report by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency followed a familiar pattern. State media typically reports Mr. Kim’s public appearances a day after they take place, carrying photos from the scene as well.

As recently as Friday, Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector who recently won a seat in the South Korean Parliament, told reporters that he was “99 percent sure” that Mr. Kim had died last weekend.

The weeks of rumors showed how “unprepared” the outside world remains “for a potential political crisis caused by something like the sudden, unexpected death of the dictator in a country bristling with dozens of nuclear weapons,” said Danny Russel, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

“We got a glimpse of the danger of loose nukes and worse if the death of Kim Jong-un had unleashed a destabilizing power struggle” in the North, where Mr. Kim had no designated adult heir in place, Mr. Russel said by email. Mr. Russel had dealt with North Korea as a National Security Council director at the White House and assistant secretary of state for Asia.

He said the past few weeks showed that “authoritative information about the North Korean supreme leader’s well-being and whereabouts is very closely guarded, and therefore dramatic rumors about his health and behavior need to be regarded with considerable skepticism.”

It was not the first time Mr. Kim had disappeared from public view for weeks at a time or been the subject of intense speculation about his health. And the information vacuum surrounding the doings of North Korean leaders leaves fertile ground for misinformation to spread.

In 1986, a South Korean newspaper reported a “world scoop” claiming that Mr. Kim’s grandfather, then-President Kim Il-sung, had died in an armed attack. A smiling Kim Il-sung resurfaced two days later.



Source link Nytimes.com

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