Kim Jong-un reappears after a 20-day absence
by Kim Sang-wook

Some agencies had reported him ill or dying. Yesterday he inaugurated a fertiliser factory amid the usual enthusiasm of the technical staff.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday attended the opening of a fertiliser factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, North Korea’s state agency, KCNA, reported today, thus breaking the silence over Kim’s fate and health.

The pictures of the event show a smiling Kim, in Maoist outfit, cutting a red ribbon at the inauguration ceremony. “All the participants broke into thunderous cheers of 'hurrah!' extending the greatest glory to the Supreme Leader,” KCNA writes.

Next to Kim was his sister Kim Yo-jong, seen by many as the Supreme Leader’s designated successor in case of death.

Yesterday's was Kim Jong-un’s first public outing since 11 April. His absence from the birthday celebrations of his grandfather Kim Il-sung had fuelled speculation about his health. A South Korean news agency, and later CNN, had even reported that he was seriously ill, almost dying.

US President Donald Trump refused to comment about Kim's health; but a group of Chinese doctors and diplomats did travel to Pyongyang to provide "advice".

North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world, with news under tight state control. The leader’s health is treated as top security, given the fear of real or imaginary coups.